No deal reached as Rome Peace Talk adjourns

No deal reached as Rome Peace Talk adjourns
Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Government Special Envoy to the Rome Peace Talks (Photo by VOA)

The Rome Peace Talks have been adjourned to May 2023 after the holdout groups failed to reach an agreement with the government.

Minister of Presidential Affairs Barnaba Marial Benjamin said the agenda items need to be exchanged between the parties and further consultation done in the next two months.

“The talks were cordial, and the government insisted that the agenda should be relevant to where the talks were stopped in 2021 so that we (parties) can take off and make sure the Rome peace talks are progressing well,” he said.

“The early agenda of 2021 indicates the movement of the peace talks positively and will lead to lasting peace in South Sudan,” Benjamin said.

Marial added that the government remains fully committed to the Rome Initiative. He said the adjournment would allow parties to consult further on the agenda for the next round of talks.

 The dragging Rome peace mediation received a boost after the leader of the National Salvation Front (NAS), Thomas Cirilo, joined the negotiating table, softening his stance and heeding the spirit of dialogue.

 “We shoulder the responsibility to rescue our country and have vowed to continue the struggle for freedom, justice, equality, and democracy for our people,” Cirillo said.

“We (the holdouts) call for the inclusivity of all stakeholders to discuss and address the root causes of the conflict to allow a new political dispensation in the country,” he said.

Under the auspices of the Community of Sant Egidio in Rome, the government of South Sudan, the South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA), The SPLM/A-IO, and the NDM have signed a peace declaration in which they recommit to the Secession of Hostilities Agreement of December 2017 to avoid confrontation between the signatory and non-signatory parties to the South Sudan peace agreement. The Rome peace talk was witnessed by IGAD. 

The talks resumed after the government walked away from the negotiation table, last November.

The state had accused non-signatories and the South Sudanese opposition groups of showing a lack of commitment.