National, News

Cirilo, Gatwech get an olive branch for Nairobi talks

By William Madouk


Nairobi peace parties have unanimously invited National Salvation Front (NAS) leader, Gen. Thomas Cirilo, and SPLM/A-IO Kitgwang leader, Gen. Simon Gatwech, to join Tumaini Initiative.

South Sudan government and South Sudan Opposition Movement Alliance (SSMOA) yesterday signed a declaration of commitment, a framework of inclusivity to address differences and booster the peace process.

A move that paves the way for non-signatories to the 2018 peace deal holdout groups, including both leaders of National Salvation Front (NAS) and SPLM/A-IO Kitgwang, to join the talks.

Real SPLM Group leader, Pagan Amum, said the Nairobi peace process will be an ‘inclusive’ dialogue and that all holdout groups, women, youth, tradition leaders, and civil society can partake.

“We have agreed that this process shall be an inclusive dialogue with the participation of all South Sudanese stakeholders, including the reconstituted transitional government of South Sudan and the opposition parties who are non-signatories to R-ARCSS,” he said in a joint communiqué.

“The purpose of this discussion should be the rescue of South Sudan from the multiple crises we are in, and we have all agreed that this will be the focus of our effort in this Tumaini initiative,” he added.

When asked about the participation of General Cirilo and Gatwech, the minister of information and government spokesperson, Michael Makuei, said since day one, the government wants comprehensive talks that bring all opposition groups together.

“It is not us; in fact, when we came here, we told the mediators that we needed an inclusive negotiation—a negotiation that included anybody who was outside or in conflict with the government,” said Makuei, who is also the rapporteur.

He added that mediators have extended the invitation to the rest of the opposition groups who have not joined the Nairobi peace talks.

“Based on that, the mediation has extended an invitation to all these parties, and the process is underway so that they join us in this [peace] process,” he noted.

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

Paul Malong Awan and Pagan Amum accepted President William 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’s not safe and they weren’t consulted either.

However, last week, in a statement posted on X Platform (formerly Twitter), Cirillo criticized the Nairobi initiative for excluding a comprehensive discussion on the root causes of the conflict in South Sudan.

“South Sudanese are being robbed of the opportunity of holding a roundtable conference that would allow them to discuss and resolve the root causes of the conflict in the country and agree on important pillars for the establishment of their new nation and peaceful coexistence,” Cirilo wrote.

He reiterated NAS’s stance, alongside its allies in the South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA), demanding a “roundtable conference of stakeholders” to facilitate credible and genuine negotiations.

Meanwhile, the SPLM-IO Kitgwang faction said it was not invited to the ongoing peace negotiations in Nairobi between the government and non-signatories to the revitalized peace agreement.

Jordan Manpiny, head of the group’s foreign relations committee, told an online media outlet that their exclusion could have negative consequences.

“We are not invited, and therefore we are not participating. I don’t know why they didn’t invite us,” Manpiny said.

Eight political-military groups are presently partaking in the Nairobi talks, including the Real-SPLM led by Pagan Amum, the SSPM led by Stephen Buay Rolnyang, and the SSUF/A led by Paul Malong.


Comments are closed.