Raila Odinga: Kenya’s top presidential aspirant meet Malong, pledges support for S. Sudan

Raila Odinga: Kenya’s top presidential aspirant meet Malong, pledges support for S. Sudan
Paul Malong and Raila Odinga in Nairobi. [Photo: Courtesy]

 ​​South Sudan’s rebel leader, Paul Malong held talks with Raila Odinga, a meeting that could be the deal breaker for lasting peace in the country.

Odinga is a top contender in the forthcoming presidential elections due on August 9 and is most likely to replace President Uhuru Kenyatta as Kenya’s fifth president.

According to insiders, the secret meeting, held in Nairobi last week, could be the deal breaker in Juba’s push to have Malong and other rebel groups return home.

Salva Kiir’s administration had extended an olive arm to rebels and their groups to return home to jointly push for the implementation of all focal points in the peace agreement

The Military Spokesperson of South Sudan United Front/Army (SSUF/A), Col Philip Deng Kuol Nguot, said that Odinga pledged to push for genuine peace in South Sudan, should he ascend into power in August 2022.

“Raila promises that “his administration will never give up pushing for genuine peace in South Sudan”.”

Malong served as the army chief of staff before he rebelled in April 2018 after he was fired from his position by President Kiir.

He was sanctioned by the US in 2017 for human rights violations before the European Union slapped him with further sanctions a year later.

In June, SSOMA, which comprises Real SPLM of Pagan Amum and South Sudan United Front/Army (SSUF/A), agreed to be included in the Ceasefire and Transitional Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM).

More than two weeks ago, SSOMA promised to visit Juba for talks with the government.

This was in compliance with the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA), 2017 and the Rome Resolution to protect civilians, guarantee free access for humanitarian organisations, and deliberate on a roadmap that will mitigate military engagements.

Real SPLM and SSUF/A will declare the size and location of their forces before August 1, 2022, and the government will assure SSOMA representatives of security before their arrival.

Last week, SSOMA formed an alliance of six non-signatory opposition parties with four other opposition movements so that they could advocate for no further extension of the transitional period.

The six non-signatory movements include the United Democratic Revolutiona​​ry Movement/Army (UDRM/A) of Thomas Tut Doap, the National Democratic Movement Patriotic Front (NDM-PF) of Emmanuel Ajawin, the National Salvation Front (NAS) of Thomas Cirillo, South Sudan United Front/Army (SSUF/A) of Paul Malong Awan, Sudan National Movement for Change (SSNMC) of Alex Yatta Lukadi, and the Real SPLM of  Pa’gan Amum Okiech.