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Cleric urges gov’t, NAS to respect Rome Declaration

Author: Charles Wote | Published: Tuesday, August 25, 2020

File: Some displaced people from Mukaya, Yei River County | Credit | facebook/John Bida

A religious leader has reminded the government and the armed opposition, National Salvation Front of their pledges to observe the cessation of hostilities agreement following reports of renewed aggression.

There have been attacks on the military and civilians across several areas in Central Equatoria state over the last few weeks.

The attacks have mainly been blamed on the opposition group led by General Thomas Cirillo.

Last week, NAS admitted to killing six bodyguards of the Vice President Dr. James Wani Igga along the Juba- Lobonok road.

It claimed their actions were based on intelligence reports that the government was spying on them.

Early this month, two attacks were reported in gold mining areas of Luri following clashes between the SSPDF and the National Salvation Front.

Several soldiers and civilians were killed.

On Monday, the leadership of the NAS issued a statement directing all its units to immediately observe a state of maximum readiness to defend themselves and civilians, in anticipation of an alleged attack by the SSPDF.

The Archbishop of the Central Equatoria Internal Provence of the Episcopal Church is now appealing to the two sides to cease any confrontation that may lead to more deaths and displacements.

Archbishop Paul Benjamin Yugusuk told Eye Radio that the parties who signed the Rome Declaration should honor their commitment.

“I am calling upon the two forces to cease from confrontations and respect the Rome Declaration so that people will return to their villages,”  Archbishop Yugusuk said on Monday.

“I think there is no respect for this declaration; there is a violation of the Rome Declaration as such, this violation led to confrontation resulting in massive displacement, killing, and looting,” he added.

Archbishop Yugusuk also called for the resumption of talks between the government and South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance to end further hostilities in the country.

In September 2019, the Community of Saint Egidio in Rome, Italy started mediating between the government and holdout groups known as the South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance or SSOMA.

Prominent leaders of SSOMA include General Paul Malong, General Thomas Cirillo, and Pagan Amum.

In January this year, the two sides signed the Rome Declaration, recommitting themselves to fostering political dialogue to facilitate further reconciliation and stabilization by addressing what they called “the root causes of the conflict in South Sudan.”

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