Malong calls for peace ahead of return to Rome talks

Malong calls for peace ahead of return to Rome talks
Gen. Paul Malong. [Photo: Courtesy]

The leader of the South Sudan United Front/Army (SSUF/A), Paul Malong, has called for peace during the Christmas festival, urging the country to stay committed to peace.

In a Christmas statement seen by the City Review, Malong stated that lasting peace would help heal the wounds of the people who have suffered since 2013 when war broke out.

“Fellow South Sudanese, Christmas is a time of great joy and happiness; a time for sharing, peace and love, a time that brings families and friends together in celebration and merry,” read the statement.

“In this festive season of 2021 Christmas, I send out my best wishes to your families, friends and colleagues and everyone that we may enjoy peacefully and usher in a prosperous new year, 2022, full of God’s blessings.”

His message comes ahead of a plan to resume the Rome talks between SSOMA and the government in January 2022.

According to the Sant’Egidio Community, the agreement was reached during a workshop before Christmas that SSUF/A and Real SPLM would be included in the peace monitoring mechanism in March 2022.

The Sant’Egidio who are mediating the talks mentioned this as a valuable step in the Rome peace talks (Sant’Egidio peace talks).

Ready for talks

SSUF/A and Real SPLM/A led by Pagan Amum declared their willingness to join Sant’Egidio peace talks that were reactivated by President Salva Kiir Mayardit last month at the closing ceremony of the Governors’ Forum in Juba.

The SSUF/A Deputy Chief of General Staff for Training and Research, Daniel Mach, revealed that they were only waiting for the date of the resumption of talks from the Sant’Egidio community that are mediating the talks.

He disclosed that only the National Salvation Front led by Gen Thomas Cirilo, a faction in South Sudan Opposition Movement Alliance (SSOMA), was unwilling to dialogue.

“They do not believe the peace is legitimate,” he said, adding that SSUF/A would only decline to participate if the venue of the negotiation was shifted to Juba.

“We are waiting for the official date to resume talks. The NAS (of Thomas Cirilo) has refused the talks, but our group is ready to go back to the negotiation table,” he reiterated.

Kiir’s directive

President Kiir issued a directive for the Rome peace talks with SSOMA parties dubbed as holdout groups at the closing ceremony of the governors’ forum.

He said that he decided to do so after he received calls from many peace lovers including Pope Francis who asked him for talks to resume.

“Many voices have appealed to us to reconsider our position and give inclusivity a chance. Yes, because of this, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has been consistently praying for South Sudan and has been appealing to me to let the Rome talks resume, ” he said.

“I will now call on the Community of Sant’Egidio to begin preparations for the resumption of the Rome talks with the holdout groups without preconditions.”