Kiir reaffirms Rome talks suspension

Kiir reaffirms Rome talks suspension
South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit speaking on the last day of National Dialogue (photo credit: Lucky Di James)

President Salva Kiir has maintained his firm position on the suspension of the Saint’Egidio Rome talks, demanding the holdout group demonstrate political will toward the 2017 Cessation of Hostility Agreement (CoHA).

Kiir, who accused members of the South Sudan Opposition Movement Alliance (SSOMA), particularly, the National Salvation Front (NAS) of General Thomas Cirilo, told the delegation of the UN Security Council that he would not resume Rome talks till SSOMA denounces violence.

“H.E. President Salva Kiir Mayardit told the UN delegation that he had put on hold the Saint’Egidio Rome Peace initiative between SSOMA and the Government of South Sudan because the group of NAS of Thomas Cirilo kept attacking innocent people along Juba- Nimule Road, which is completely unacceptable.

The statement was published on the President’s official page Thursday and partly read, “He decided to put the talks on hold until there is a political will from the holdout Opposition Group to respect the ceasefire agreement. Then he would consider reversing the order for the peace talks to continue,”

On Thursday, President Kiir held talks with the delegation of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) led by the Permanent Representative of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to the United Nations, Daung Dinh Quy.

The delegation was in South Sudan on Wednesday to assess the progress in the peace implementation.

President Kiir suspended peace talks between the government and SSOMA in August of this year, accusing them of perpetuating attacks on innocent civilians along the Juba-Nimule road.

The attacks, which claimed dozens of lives, including two Catholic nuns, have also hindered humanitarian service delivery in parts of Central Equatoria State, due to looting, burning, and ambushes on aid convoys.

However, SSOMA denied the accusation and blamed the government for failing to implement the agreement that prompted some disgruntled elements within the pro-government army to seek alternative means of survival by laying ambushes on major roads in the country.

Members of civil society organisations, church-based groups, and the international community have called on Kiir to resume talks with SSOMA to make the peace process in the country inclusive.

“This talk was stopped by the action of SSOMA for some reasons. What is the cause of the violation of the agreement we signed in the Rome Resolution? Until they tell us and the rest of South Sudanese why they are killing innocent people, stopping them on the roads, ambushing them, and so on.Unless this thing is explained in a good way, I think the mediator will let us know. ” Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, Minister of Presidential Affairs, and the government’s chief negotiator, said in October.