Ceasefire: Plans to revive Rome talks hatched

Ceasefire: Plans to revive Rome talks hatched
Minister of Presidential Affairs Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin (left) holds hands with Secretary-General of the Community of Sant’Egidio Paolo Impagliazzo (centre) and SSOMA’s Pagan Amum during a past Rome talk session (photo credit: courtesy)

The Secretary-General of Sant’Egidio Paolo Impagliazzo has revealed the talks with the government are underway to ensure the resumption of the Rome negotiations following months of suspension.

Mr Impagliazzo who led Rome’s delegation to Juba over the weekend met and discussed with President Salva Kiir the challenges to the resumption of the negotiations to enable parties to return to the table of negotiations.

The Rome talks suffered a setback in September when President Kiir suspended the negotiations over reoccurring attacks along major roads, particularly the Juba- Nimule Highway, where unknown gunmen killed five people among them two Catholic nuns who had attended a church event. The President blamed the attacks on the forces of the South Sudan Opposition Movement Alliance (SSOMA), particularly the National Salvation Front (NAS).

The president, however, promised he would resume talks with the group should they demonstrate commitment to the negotiation by ceasing the attacks and abiding by the agreement and the Rome Declaration of Principles.

“We decided to pause the ongoing Sant’Egidio led Rome peace initiative. Our pursuit for an inclusive peace should never be taken for weakness and used as a window to kill the innocent,” said Kiir.

He added, “The talks with SSOMA will only resume after they cease killing the innocent people and show their commitment to documents they have signed in Rome. It is only when they meet these conditions that genuine dialogue will resume.”

The president further said: “We have signed the Rome Declaration and Rome Resolutions with SSOMA, and the recommitment of the Cessation of Hostility in December 2017, and Declaration of Principle. The goal of signing that was to stop fighting and to save livelihoods. Those were our commitments to inclusivity.”

Confidence in process

Speaking to the state-owned SSBC on Saturday evening, Mr Implagliazio expressed optimism in the resumption of talks between the parties after meeting with President Kiir to end the conflict in the country.

“We have discussed the way forward to the Rome initiative because there are some difficulties, but we discussed the possibilities of how to overcome those difficulties; we will now start discussing the possibility to resume the talks with SSOMA,” said Implagliazzo.

On several accounts, parties to the Rome talks have been trading accusations over waves of attacks that have rocked parts of the country.

Early this year, SSOMA boycotted peace negotiation over the death of its general in Kampala. The hold out group accused pro-government security personnel of being behind his death.

In September, Mr Implagliazzo pointed out that the Community of Sant’Egidio believes negotiation was a viable way to ending the conflict in the Republic of South Sudan, adding they were in communication with both parties to ensure the resumption of the negotiations.