The government has pulled out of the Rome peace talks, saying the South Sudan Opposition Movement Alliance is violating the cessation of hostilities agreement, President Salva Kiir has said.
The President said the group, especially the National Salvation Front, or NAS led by General Thomas Cirilo, is attacking travelers on Juba – Nimule highway and Juba-Yei road.
President Kiir blamed the Holdout Groups for recently carrying out attacks that killed two Catholic nuns and others along Juba – Nimule highway two week ago, although no group has claimed responsibility.
He said the act is a violation of the cessation of hostilities agreement signed between the holdout groups and the government in Rome Italy.
President Kiir asserted that the government’s pursuit for inclusive peace should never be taken for a weakness and used as a window to kill the innocent.
Kiir announced the withdrawal of the government’s delegation from the Rome peace talks during a joint session of the national parliament and the council of states in Juba yesterday.
“Recent killings of innocent civilians along Juba-Nimule highway and on Yei-Juba road by elements of the South Sudan opposition movement alliance have tested our patience,” President Kiir said.
“Now that SSOMA, specifically the National Salvation Front elements continue to violate these commitments [ceasefire agreement] we have decided to pause the ongoing Sant Egidio-led Rome peace initiative.”
“Our pursuit of an inclusive peace should not be taken for a weakness and used as a window to kill the innocent.”
“Talks with SSOMA will only resume after they cease from killing the innocent and show their commitment to documents they have signed in Rome. It is only when they meet these conditions that genuine dialogue with them will resume.”
Two weeks ago, the South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance or SSOMA has denied involvement in the killing of civilians along the Juba-Nimule highway.
It denounces what it describes as the heinous killing of innocent civilians and members of the clergy.
For their part, the National Salvation Front, or NAS led by General Thomas Cirilo denied its attacks on civilians along Juba – Nimule highway and Juba – Yei road.
The Saint-Egidio-led mediation is aimed at supporting an inclusive peace agreement in South Sudan by persuading the hold-out group to join the revitalized peace deal signed in September 2018.
In January last year, the government and SSOMA signed the Rome Declaration to cease hostilities.
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