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Parties optimistic of peace deal

By William Madouk


South Sudan is set to make history once again, in Kenya, the birthplace of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), as talks between the transitional government and holdout group begin.

The eyes of the world are now focused on Nairobi, with high hopes that these talks will bring lasting peace home.

President Salva Kiir departed for Nairobi from Juba yesterday morning and arrived in the Kenyan capital Nairobi to inaugurate a peace talk aimed at quelling insurgence with the Non-Signatory South Sudan Opposition Group (NSSOG).

The opening of high-level mediation for South Sudan draws together various African heads of state, envoys, and observers from Western nations.

In his keynote address at the opening of talks, President Salva Kiir Mayardit recalled how Kenya brought an end to Africa’s longest civil war through the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), asserting that the current Nairobi talk might yield the same results.

“I am confident that these efforts will yield a similar result as the country prepares for the general election this year,” said Kiir.

The South Sudanese head of state emphasized that the negotiations between his administration and holdout groups started five years ago in Rome. Under the auspices of the community of Saint Egidio, thus, Nairobi talks must fasten the already-laid foundation.

“The current mediation effort led by Kenya will be anchored on a firm foundation led by the Rome peace process,” he stated.

He stressed that South Sudan has come to negotiate in good faith and with an open mind.

Kenyan President William Ruto lauded the South Sudan Transitional government and holdout groups’ commitment to bringing lasting peace.

“This gathering marks a pivotal moment in a historic journey, uniting stakeholders committed to ending conflict and political instability in South Sudan,” said Ruto.

“The language of brotherhood therein gives us hope that there is a chance for us to settle this once and for all,” he added.

He assured Kenya’s steadfast commitment to contribute to ending cycles of conflict and instability and achieving peace and prosperity for South Sudanese.

Besides, the transitional government head of the high-level delegation for the talks, Amb. Albino Mathem, expressed high hopes for reaching an agreement with the non-signatories to the revitalized peace agreement.

“I wish to assure my brothers and sisters that I am confident that my delegation and I will reach an agreement,” Mathem vowed.

“We will openly negotiate at a good pace and abide by the guidance of His Excellency President Salva Kiir Mayaridt,” he continued.

Meanwhile, the Kenyan chief mediator of the Nairobi peace talks for South Sudan, Gen. Lazarus Sumbeiywo, said, they plan to engage in sustained and continuous mediation to find those who have previously worked with South Sudan.

“To ensure speedy and comprehensive resolution of the issues, so long as the parties go along with the plan,” he added.

Mr. Sumbeiywo appreciated President Ruto for entrusting him with the task of mediating South Sudan peace talks.

However, the leader of the National Salvation Front (NAS), Gen. Thomas Cirilo, who earlier refused the Nairobi initiative, remains tight-lipped, leaving room for guessing whether he will later join or not.

In an interview with No. 1 Citizen Newspaper, the spokesperson of the South Sudan United Front/Army (SSUF/A) under Gen. Paul Malong Awan, Mr. Garang Malual Deng, confirmed their readiness and that of the Real SPLM allied to Pagan Amum to partake in Nairobi peace talks.

But he cast doubt on Thomas Cirilo’s participation, citing that none of his representatives were present.

However, a breakaway faction of the NAS-Revolutionary Command Council was registered in the Nairobi peace process.

“I doubt, up to now, we are not seeing anyone from their group [NAS under Thomas Cirilo], but almost all these groups, like Real SPLM, have their delegate,” Malual affirmed.

The talks were shifted from Rome, Italy, in January to Nairobi, under the mediation of the Kenyan government.

The holdout groups, led by Paul Malong Awan and Pagan Amum, accepted President Ruto’s mediation.

Meanwhile, the NAS under Cirilo and the National Democratic Movement-Patriotic Front, allied to Emmanuel Ajwain, rejected the Nairobi initiative, citing that it was not safe and they weren’t consulted either.

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