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New hurdle in Tumaini Initiative as SSOMA rejects integration into R-TGONU

Author: Lasuba Memo | Published: Monday, July 8, 2024

Pagan Amum Okech, leader of The Real SPLM, speaks during an interview with Eye Radio in Nairobi on June 6, 2024. - Photo credit: Eye Radio/Lou Nelson

Opposition groups in the Kenyan-led mediation of South Sudan peace process have rejected their integration into the unity government, saying the Tumaini Initiative will come out with a timetable consistent with the agreed programs and activities.

SSOMA and allies in the negotiation were reacting to Juba’s Friday press conference in which it was disclosed that the Kenya-led process will merge them in five newly created five positions in the 2018 peace deal.

At a press briefing on Monday, the groups said neither the pre-empted extension nor the scheduling of elections to December is necessary at the moment as they are deeply engaged in peace talks in Nairobi.

They said the Tumaini Initiative is the only mechanism which can usher in a new political dispensation and hold the first democratic elections in the country.

They asserted that any unilateral decision outside the Nairobi peace negotiations will be considered an act of bad faith and will cast a dark shadow on the current peace process.

“We want to categorically state that the Tumaini Initiative is not about implementation of the R-ARCSS, but rather about agreeing on a Rescue Plan to avoid the disintegration and descent of South Sudan into chaos,” said Pagan Amum, leader of the Real SPLM.

“The truth is that the Tumaini Initiative will produce a new agreement with strong implementation mechanisms to usher South Sudan into a permanent peace and new democratic dispensation.”

They stressed that the people of South Sudan demand to restore their right to elect their government in periodic, free, fair and peaceful elections.

The Tumaini Initiative, according to the groups, is not about implementation of the R-ARCSS, but rather to produce a new agreement with strong implementation mechanisms to usher South Sudan into a permanent peace and new democratic dispensation.

The groups warned that they will not sign an agreement that allows the Parties to the R-ARCSS to give themselves more time in office without delivering on their promises to serve and hand over power to the people.

“In fact, the agreement that will come through the ’Tumaini Initiative will end the self-perpetuating clause of the R-ARCSS.”

“We will not sign an agreement that allows the Parties to the R-ARCSS to give themselves more time in office without delivering on their promises to serve and hand over power to the people.”

Mr. Amum said the opposition groups call on President Salva Kiir to take actions that will strengthen the peace negotiations.

“We urge the government of South Sudan and President Kiir in particular, to exercise leadership and cease unilateral actions that undermine the peace negotiations.”

“We appeal to the region and the international community to continue supporting the Tumaini Initiative and its outcome and to bring pressure to bear on the spoilers of peace.”

“We implore the mediation to restore the multi-stakeholder negotiation platform that includes the PCCA and other Stakeholders to maintain the inclusive nature of the peace talks.”

The government is yet respond to the position of the Opposition Groups.

On July 5, the Minister of Information Michael Makuei, announced that the government has agreed to include the groups participating in the Tumaini Initiative in the security and governance arrangements of the 2018 peace accord.

He stated that the Joint Defense Board will be renamed as Joint Defense and Security Board to include non-signatories to the peace deal, adding there will be five institutions to oversee the implementation of the Tumaini Initiative.

These include; the High Regional Panel or HRP that will comprise President Salva Kiir, President William Ruto and heads of state in the region.

The panel will oversee the work of the National Leadership Council or NLC and will comprise President Salva Kiir, FVP, Dr. Riek Machar, the four Vice Presidents, and three signatories representing the Tumaini groups.

The transitional government and the opposition groups already fell out on the constitution-making process – as Minister Makuei revealed Friday that the government delegation rejected a proposal to have the permanent constitution drafted in Kenya.

He termed the issue – which he said was the major point of contention between the R-TGONU and the SSOMA and other stakeholders in the Tumaini peace talks as a “red line” on their side.

Also on Monday, the groups threatened to abandon the Tumaini Initiative and that they may not sign any agreement with the R-TGONU until the recently passed National Security Service Act is revoked by President Kiir.

They said the NSS must be reconstituted into a civilian National Intelligence Service with the mandate to gather intelligence without powers of arrest, detention, and interference in the political processes.

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