Faith-based groups at risk upon return to Juba over peace efforts: SPLM-IO
May 21st 2018 (Nyamilepedia) – South Sudan’s armed opposition group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) said on Monday that efforts being exerted by the faith-based groups sent from Juba to represent the South Sudan Council of Churches at the South Sudan’s peace talks in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa are being derailed by the possible potential fragile security status they will be exposed to upon return to the South Sudanese capital Juba were they came from.
In a statement to the public on Monday, the group said the efforts of the faith-based groups are noble.
“The SPLM/SPLA (IO) contention is that the faith-based groups’ efforts despite being contradictory to the ideas of Westphalian Sovereignty are noble,” the statement said.
The statement, signed by the SPLM-IO chairman of the national committee for information Mabior Garang de’Mabior, added that the engagement of the religious group is derailed by the potential security situation back home.
“These efforts however, are undermined by the presence of a brutal state security apparatus in Juba, to which they must return and may be victim of,” the statement added.
The statement, added that they will continue to articulate the group’s position as presented to the IGAD reiterating the their commitment to the IGAD peace process saying their group reserves the right to self-defense.
“SPLM/SPLA (IO) shall continue to articulates our position as presented to IGAD Mediation during the consultation on May 11 and 12 and shall also continue to negotiate in good faith to bring sustainable peace to the people of South Sudan. However, in light of the government’s continued violation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoH) and massacring of innocent civilians, the SPLM/SPLA (IO) reserves the natural right of self-defense,” the statement further said.
South Sudan descended into civil war in December 2013 after forces loyal to the country’s president, Salva Kiir Mayardiit and his then Governor of Northern Bahr Al-Ghazal State Gen. Paul Malong Awan went door-to-door in the capital Juba killing civilians belonging to the Nuer ethnic group sparking a nation-wide protests from top army generals from the Nuer leading to a civil war.
A peace agreement signed in August 2015 by President Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar and negotiated under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union (AU) in presence of Troika and other international observers collapsed in July 2016 following fighting at the presidential palace in Juba “J1” reportedly after President Kiir ordered a failed attempt to arrest the SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar.
Late last year, the IGAD decided to revive the peace agreement and had initiated a peace revival mechanism known as the High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) to bring back to life the 2015 peace agreement. Peace talks in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa resumed on Thursday with little optimism as President Kiir said he is unwilling to accept the return of the country’s former first vice president and two armies both of whom are major opposition demands.
The IGAD has given the negotiating parties May 21st as the ultimatum to sign peace but it is still unclear what would be the consequences in case the warring parties do not meet the dateline.