Deadlock persists over Rome Talks as parties cling to positions

Deadlock persists over Rome Talks as parties cling to positions
Real SPLM leader Pa’gan Amum, South Sudan minister of presidential affairs, Dr Barnaba Marial, and SSUF/A leader Paul Malong in a past mediation session. [Photo: courtesy]

The parties to the Rome Peace talks have stuck to their hardline positions, even as the mediator waits and pushes to meet them on the sidelines to break the deadlock on the next step of talks.

The Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) and the Non-Signatory South Sudan Opposition Group (NSSOG) disagreed in Rome in March over the agenda of the meeting.

This was after the non-signatories preferred a roundtable approach involving fresh inclusive discussions, as the government favoured the continuation of the talks from where they stopped last time, incorporating some SSNOG into the security mechanisms.

The deadlock made the Rome-based mediator, Sant-‘Egidio Community, call off the meeting until further notice after consultation with the parties.

The efforts by the mediator to find a way forward to the deadlock were planned to be arranged in Rome for both parties to meet with the peace monitors at a separate time to get through the deadlock, should it persist.

On their return from Rome after a botched meeting, the NSSOG continued to hold their position for a roundtable discussion.

“The NSSOG remains committed to dialogue to achieve permanent and just peace in South Sudan, which will only be achieved through an inclusive roundtable of all South Sudanese stakeholders,” Pa’gan Amum Okiech, NSSOG spokesperson, said in a statement seen by The City Review.

He added that the group is still committed to the Rome Peace and is ready to ensure that there is peace in South Sudan.

However, RTGoNU is expected to arrive in Rome for a separate meeting with the Community of Sant Egidio to discuss the way forward.

Till now, RTGoNU has been silent after promising to carry out consultations with the government in Juba.

He added that the consultation is to ensure that the non-signatories decide on a point, adding that there could be multiple opinions.

But while addressing the media after one of the cabinet sittings this month, government spokesperson Michael Makuei said the government encouraged the continuation of the Rome peace talks.

“The delegation that went from here (South Sudan) was appreciated for their role and given the go-ahead to continue negotiating with the non-signatories,” Makuei said.

He said the head of the delegation to the Rome peace talks, Dr. Barnaba Marial, who is the minister for presidential affairs, briefed the cabinet on the progress of the Rome peace talks.

“We listen to another report from Dr. Marial Benjamin on the last peace talks in Rome with the non-signatory groups,” he said.

He added that the parties to the Rome peace did not agree on the way forward for the negotiation. It would be expected that the mediator will meet with the representatives of the government to find a middle ground after hosting the holdout groups.

There is also a chance for Rome’s peace initiators to also invite the government to correct what should be done to get inclusive peace.