Ruto seeks help of Rome to strike gov’t-NSSOG handshake

Ruto seeks help of Rome to strike gov’t-NSSOG handshake

Kenya’s President William Ruto (centre) holds talks with the Sant’Egidio Community in Rome on Tuesday, January 30, 2024. [Photo: GoK]

Kenya’s President William Ruto hinted at roping in the efforts of the Community of Sant’Egidio in the mediation process aimed at striking a deal between the Government of South Sudan and the Non-Signatory Sudanese Opposition Group (NSSOG).

Ruto met the mediators in Italy, where he revealed that his government would engage the community as it embarked on seeking an agreeable solution to the long-standing mediation.  

“Kenya associates itself with the milestones made by the Sant’Egidio Community Peace Process in finding lasting peace in South Sudan. We undertake to partner and work closely together with all parties involved to restore stability in South Sudan,” Ruto stated on his X account on Tuesday.

He further noted that his meeting with the Rome Initiative Group (Sant’Egidio) focused on South Sudan’s peace process and how to resume the dialogue between the government and the holdout groups. However, he did not give more details on the said meeting.

In his reaction to the meeting, the SSUF/A spokesperson, Garang Malual Deng, welcomed the move of President Ruto, adding that bringing Rome on board would be a positive gesture to making the elusive steps to an agreement.  

“Sant Egidio brought us where we are today in terms of the mediation between us and the government; therefore, we cannot take their efforts for granted,” he said.

“We appreciate what they did for the last three years for the people of South Sudan,” he added.

Meanwhile, Edmund Yakani, a South Sudanese activist, lauded President Ruto for reaching out to Rome, arguing that it was an opportunity to compare notes.

Yakani called on Ruto to start from where Rome left off with the hope of ensuring inclusive peace in the country.

Last week, Amb. Emmanuel Ajawin, the Chairman of the National Democratic Movement Patriotic Front (NDM-PF) and the coordinator of NSSOG revealed that the group failed to reach an agreement over the proposed new venue.

“The majority (NSSOG members) felt that since it is a pre-negotiation consultation and there are a lot of issues that need to be discussed, the first meeting should be held in Rome,” he said.

President Salva Kiir requested that his Kenyan counterpart lead the mediation process because the Rome mechanism was taking longer.  

The NSSOG comprises the National Salvation Front led by Gen. Thomas Cirilo Swaka, the South Sudan United Front led by General Paul Malong Awan, and the Real Sudan People’s Liberation Movement led by Pagan Amum National Democratic Movement Patriotic Front (NDM-PF) led by Ambassador Emmanuel Ajawin, among others.