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Nairobi Talks: Chief mediator reassures delegates of security amid assassination claims

By Charles K Mark


Kenyan mediation team for South Sudan peace talks in Nairobi has reassured delegates and the public that discussions are being held in a secure environment.

The assurance stemmed from claims of assassination attempts against rebel leader Gen. Stephen Buoy Rolyang.

In a joint statement issued on Monday, the Chief Mediator, Retired Lt. Gen. Lazaro Sumbeiywo, confirmed ongoing investigations into the claims.

“The regrettable incident circulating in social media, is under investigation by the relevant security agencies of the Republic of Kenya and the outcome of the same shall be communicated publicly” the chief mediator stated.

According to the chief mediator, all parties involved in the peace talks and the environment pose no threats.

“The Government of Kenya-led Mediation Phase of the High-Level Mediation for South Sudan brings to the attention of the public that upon consultation with the Hotel security, parties, civil society and stakeholders confirm that the peace process is conducted in a secure environment” Lazaro stated.

He added that all parties reaffirm their commitment and pro-active participation in the peace process.

The mediation team urged all parties to follow established procedures adding that they will remain in contact to address operational, administrative, and security matters, ensuring a conducive environment for the talks.

Assassination claims


Stephen Buoy Rolnyang, C – in – C of the SSPM/A (Courtesy Photo)

A member of the holdout groups engaging in Nairobi peace talks has requested an immediate evacuation as he fears for his life amid assignation claims.

Chairman and Commander in Chief of the South Sudan People’s Movement and Army (SSPM/A), Gen. Stephen Buoy Rolnyang, has accused the presidential security advisor of reportedly sending assassins to kill him in Nairobi.

Gen. Buoy claimed an assassination plot by hired Kenyan-based men in dark glasses to attack him inside the Ole Sereni Hotel, where he’s residing.

“I noticed them, and I returned to my room and immediately alerted the security, and I reported it to you the following morning,” he told the delegates during the round of talks.

Buoy claimed sensing the plot against his life before he ordered the arrest of the suspects, who escaped by hiding behind a government delegate.

Following serious arguments, confrontations, and misunderstandings, the case was forwarded to the higher authorities of the Kenyan mediation team.

Buoy, who has expressed his intention to withdraw from the talks and demands immediate evacuation, said he’s convinced that Juba is not ready for any genuine peace talks.

“I therefore request your esteemed office that the SSPM/A/SSUNA team withdraw from the talks and needs immediate evacuation from Nairobi back to where we came from,” he echoed.

However, government spokesperson, Michael Makuei Lueth, on Monday broadcast over South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC) Television, denied any security threats to delegates in the Nairobi talks.

Meanwhile, Edmond Yakani, Executive Director for the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), representing civil society, condemned the incident, calling it a disappointment to the mediation team and the entire delegation.

The activist demands that President Salva Kiir and his entire government take the claim seriously and take aggressive measures to counter the act.

Though calm is returning to the discussion table, Yakani said there is a need to build trust and confidence among the negotiators for a genuine resolution.

“The spirit was very high in the beginning, and it has been. But these few days, the spirit has been demoralized,” he explained.

Two weeks after kickoff of the Nairobi process, the interim chairperson of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (R-JMEC) viewed the Nairobi peace talks as an antidote to South Sudan’s stability.

Rtd. Maj. Gen. Charles Tai Gituai cited the Nairobi Peace Initiative as a way of achieving inclusivity, justice, and building peace processes in South Sudan.

The High-Level Mediation (Tumaini Initiative) for South Sudan led by Kenyan President William Ruto following a request from his South Sudan counterpart President Salva Kiir Mayardit, began in early May 2024.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Catholic Community of Sant’Egidio co-chair the process.

Since its commencement, Talks have seen progress, including parties agreeing on agendas, adopting rules, launching of the initiative at State House, hosting a donor roundtable, and signing a Declaration of Commitment on May 16th by the parties, stakeholders and observers.

Negotiations on agenda items and implementation mechanisms are ongoing.

Participants engaging in the peace process include the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity, holdout groups, such as the South Sudan United Front / Army, the Real-SPLM.

Others are the South Sudan People’s Movement / Army and the SSUNA Alliance, the National Salvation Front Revolutionary Command Council, Patriots’ Resistance Movement, and stakeholders including People’s Coalition for Civil Action (PCCA), civil society, academia, youth, and women’s groups.


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