Gen Paul Malong sends delegation to Europe for ceasefire talks

Gen Paul Malong sends delegation to Europe for ceasefire talks
Paul Malong, chairman of South Sudan United Front/Army (SSUF/A), which is currently holding Rome Talks with the government.[Photo: Courtesy]

The resumption of Rome Talks had been expected at the beginning of this year, but till now, no information has been forthcoming over the fate of the discussion bringing together the government and South Sudan Opposition Movement Alliance (SSOMA).

Yesterday, South Sudan United Front led by Paul Malong Awan, said that their delegates for Ceasefire Transitional and Security Arrangement, Monitoring and Verification Mechanisms (CTSAMVM), workshop had arrived in Europe, claiming that they were down for lasting peace in the country.

“Our leaders arrived safely in Europe with the team ahead of the CTSAMVM training course.” Thanks to the Sant’Egidio Community for the invitation and facilitation. Searching for lasting peace in South Sudan must continue despite the challenges we are facing on our way,” the statement read.

The Military Spokesperson of SSUF/A, Col Deng Kuol Nguot, said he was not authorised to give details of the training, but would wait till he was allowed to give an official statement, denying that the training was not yet prepared for the resumption of Rome Talks.

“No, only CTSAMVM’s last security workshop that will start tomorrow on Monday in Rome. Can you wait for our official press release tomorrow regarding the workshop?” he said.

“I am not ordered to come out with a press statement. I am waiting for the framework that with the contents of that training course tomorrow please.”

In December 2021, the Community of Sant’Egidio resolved to include Real SPLM led by the former SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum, and SSUF/A, led by Paul Malong Awan in ceasefire monitoring by March 2022.

The agreement reached during a workshop conducted from December 14 to December 17, 2021, in Nairobi, Kenya has dragged now for three more months ahead of March 2022 set for their inclusion in ceasefire monitoring.

“This workshop, conducted in collaboration with the ceasefire monitoring mechanism, follows the political agreement already signed by the parties in July 2021 in Rome,” read the statement.

“It was agreed that opposition groups will be fully included in all structures of the ceasefire monitoring mechanism by the end of March 2022. The inclusion of these groups is a necessary step to ensure full compliance with the Agreement on the cessation of hostilities and is essential to bring peace to the country.”

President Salva Kiir Mayardit called for the resumption of Rome talks at the Governors’ Forum in November 2021 but doubted the willingness of holdout groups to hold to the peace process.

President Kiir later prepared a government delegation for Rome Talks and tasked the Minister for Presidential Affairs, Dr Barnaba Marial Benjamin to lead the government delegation to the venue of the talks.

In recent months, Malong faced difficulties as his movement had begun to fall apart, especially with the formation of a new splinter group called South Sudan United Front/Army Proper, which prefers dialogue to seek a peace more than the barrel of a gun.

This came after the succeeding defections of key figures in his movement including the Secretary for ICT, Deng Chapath who joined the government and warned people against joining Malong’s movement so that they might not regret it later.

Many other senior officers turned their back on Malong citing a lack of direction in his leadership, being nepotistic and that the “movement” had lost its vision of helping out refugees and IDPs.