SSOMA denies taking part in Nimule road killings

SSOMA denies taking part in Nimule road killings
Pagan Amum (SSOMA) (right), Minister of Presidential Affairs Dr Barnaba Marial Benjamin and former Chief of Staff Gen. Paul Malong (SSOMA) pose for a photo after Naivasha mediation talks in 2020. [Photo: Courtesy]

South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOMA) has denied responsibility in the August 16, Juba-Nimule road ambush that killed two nuns.

Two other travellers were also killed in the same incident.

The group condemned President Kiir’s threats to pull out of the ongoing Rome’s peace negotiations with the holdout over continuous violations of the 2017 cessation of hostilities agreement parties assented to.

On Tuesday, President Salva Kiir warned that the Revitalised government would reconsider its position on the ongoing Sant’Egidio Rome peace talks with the holdout groups over the continued armed road ambushes on Juba -Nimule Highway.

“The responsibility of their death lies squarely on the holdout groups, and the Revitalised Transitional Government of National Unity condemns this act of terror with the strongest term possible,” President Kiir said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The government signed the Rome Declaration, the commitment to Cessation of Hostility, and the Declaration of Principles with the holdout groups to stop fighting and save lives of innocent.”

“Now that the non-signatories to the Revitalised Peace Agreement continue to violate these commitments, the Government may reconsider its position on the ongoing Sant;Egidio led Rome initiative. Our pursuit of an inclusive peace should never be taken for weakness and used as a window to kill innocent,” partly the statement read.

However, in response to President Kiir’s statement, SSOMA issued a statement dated August 19 and blamed the government’s forces of the attacks.

“The South Sudan Opposition Movement Alliance (SSOMA) denounces and condemns in the strongest term possible the statement by the president.

Denies claims

“SOMA calls on the international communities and other international relevant organizations to investigate the incidences and inform the people of South Sudan of the perpetrators of these killings.

“SSOMA is committed to the Declaration of Principles and confirmed its commitment to the cessation of hostility, however, reserves the right to defend itself and the people of South Sudan when attacked.” the statement partly read.

The revitalised government and SSOMA resumed talks on July 16, with aim of reaching a comprehensive peace agreement to make the ongoing peace process in the country inclusive by bringing all the non-signatories to join the implementation of the 2018 peace deal.

However, hostilities along major roads in the Equatoria region and NAS’ strongholds have been prevalent over the past years. These have been characterised by looting, killings, kidnapping, and burning of vehicles, hindering humanitarian assistance to thousands of people in need.

Monday 16 incident was the latest in series of these attacks where four people were killed, among them two nuns when their cars were ambushed along Juba-Nimule highway as they were returning from the celebration of Loa Parish centenary.