Peace monitor bets on Rome peace talks for stability
The Ceasefire Transitional Security Arrangement Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM) on Monday showed confidence in the resumption of the Rome peace negotiations, arguing that it will curtail the National Salvation Front’s alleged attacks in the Equatoria region.
CTSAMVM Chairperson, Maj. Gen. Teshome Gemechu Aderie hailed President Salva Kiir’s decision to resume the talks to improve security in the country.
On November 29, President Salva Kiir ordered the resumption of the Saint’Egidio Rome peace talks after nearly three months of its unilateral suspension in August, over the Juba-Nimule highway attacks that claimed the lives of two Catholic nuns.
Kiir promised in August that he would not negotiate with the leaders of the holdout groups—Gen. Thomas Cirilo, Gen. Paul Malong Awan, and Pagan Amum—unless they revealed to the government and people of South Sudan the reasons for attacking innocent citizens.
“The quest for inclusive peace and stability in our country remains our priority,” President Kiir remarked. In my recent speech to the joint session of parliament, I announced the halt of talks with the holdout groups. We took this decision [in protest of] the killing of innocent civilians on major roads and highways by elements from the South Sudan Movement Alliance (SSOMA).
“It was not because of our weakness. What compelled us to suspend the talks was this killing that took place after we signed the cessation of hostility agreement and the declaration of principle with SSOMA. “Now that they have refused to respect and comply with the agreement that we have signed, I will, despite the challenges, order the resumption of talks,” said Kiir.
Change of tact
But the head of state said he had received calls from many quarters, including the Vatican City, where Pope Francis had reached out to him to allow the resumption of talks.
“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.
“I will now call on the Community of Saint’Egidio to begin preparations for the resumption of the Rome talks with the holdout groups without preconditions,” said President Kiir.
Addressing the opening session of the CTSAMVM board meeting on Monday, Maj. Gen. Gemechu commended Kiir’s decision to order the return to the table of negotiations without preconditions that will usher in security stability in the country.
“Since the last meeting [on October 27], there have been three incidents allegedly involving NAS forces in Central Equatoria that CTSAMVM has been made aware of,” said Maj. Gen. Gemechu.
“We are investigating this incident, which reportedly resulted in the deaths of three SSPDF soldiers and one civilian.
“CTSAMVM greatly appreciates the decision by the government to resume the Rome peace talks’ process without preconditions, as these incidents allegedly involving NAS have negative impacts on security in some parts of the country,’’ he added.
It is yet to be ascertained when the negotiations will formally resume following the pronouncement.