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Gov’t reiterates call on hold-out groups to join peace process

Author: Garang Abraham | Published: Monday, September 21, 2020

SSPDF soldiers pose for a photograph | File photo

The government has reiterated calls for opposition groups that are still holding arms to lay down their weapons and join the peace process as the world commemorates the international day of peace.

In January 2020, holdout groups and the government signed the Rome Declaration to cease hostilities and further political dialogue in order to participate in the ongoing peace process.

But the Declaration has reportedly been violated by various parties, according to ceasefire monitors.

In August , the National Salvation Front (NAS) claimed responsibility for the deaths of six bodyguards of the Vice President Dr. James Wani Igga in an attack on a Toyota land-cruiser along Juba – Lobonok road.

Clashes between the NAS forces and both SSPDF and SPLA-IO were reported in Central Equatoria as well as Western Equatoria states, according to the peace monitoring body RJMEC.

Observers have urged the SSPDF, NAS, and the SPLA-IO to adhere to the Cessation of Hostilities deal signed in December 2017 in Addis Ababa and the Rome Declaration signed in January 2020.

Speaking on the international day of peace, the Minister for Peace Building, Stephen Par said the continuous inter-communal violence and attacks along the roads are worsening the situation of the vulnerable civil populations who are battling various disasters.

“We call upon all our armed groups in the opposition to lay down their weapons and join the peace agreement for the betterment of our suffering communities,” said Par.

“By armed opposition groups, I mean the hold out groups including NAS that are still fighting, we are inviting them to join the process and build peace with us.”

For his part, the executive director for Community Empowerment for Progress Organization – Edmund Yakani called on the government and donors to invest in the peace process.

“We normally make statements but fewer resources are invested to make peacebuilding real because peacebuilding is not a statement, peacebuilding is an investment beyond workshops, beyond dialogue,” Yakani said.

“That means we need to have peacebuilding structures for example for a state, the state needs to make sure that access to information and freedom of expression are not interfered with because when people remain silent, violence becomes the only solution.”

According to the 2020 Global Peace Index, South Sudan is the fourth-least peaceful country in the world after Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq.

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