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Holdout groups, gov’t near peaceful settlement

Author: Alhadi Hawari | Published: Thursday, March 11, 2021

Leaders of the holdout groups, from left: Gen. Thomas Cirillo, Gen. Paul Malong and Pagan Amum in Rome in January 2020 | Credit | Courtesy

The government and holdout groups say they are close to reaching a comprehensive peace settlement in the talks happening in Naivasha, Kenya.

A delegation representing the current unity government has been meeting with the leaders of the South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance.

The government and SSOMA – a coalition of opposition groups led by Thomas Cirillo, Paul Malong, Pagan Amum – have been negotiating a peace deal since 2019.

The talks are mediated by the Sant’Egidio Catholic community in Italy.

They seek to include the holdout opposition groups in the revitalized peace process.

Among the issues being discussed are; constitutionalism, federalism, good governance, issues of land and borders, and the general rule of law in South Sudan.

They are also looking at steps needed to promote reconciliation and stability in the country.

President Salva Kiir said in January 2021 that the talks would ensure the quest for peace in South Sudan is inclusive.

In a press briefing in Naivasha on Wednesday, Pagan Amum, who is the leader of the Real-SPLM group said progress had been made on most of the issues.

“We promise our people that we will leave no stone unturned until we solve all the outstanding issues so that we can leave conflicts and wars behind us,” he stated.

For his part, the head of the government delegation, Dr. Barnaba Marial, asserted that the government was determined to reach a peaceful settlement with the holdout groups.

“We are all determined to leave this holy place of peace in South Sudan 9Naivasha) with something tangible, something which is good for our people,” Dr Marial said.

In January 2020, both sides signed a peace declaration in which they recommitted to the cessation of hostilities and called for uninterrupted humanitarian access to the local and international organizations.

SSOMA also include the South Sudan National Salvation Front headed by General Thomas Cirilo.

NAS and the SSPDF, including forces of the SPLA-IO, have often clashed in several areas within Central Equatoria state.

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