Government wants Rome talks moved to Juba, opposition rejects

Photo: Government and opposition representatives signing the Rome Declaration to recommit to ceasefire

April 5, 2020 (Nyamilepedia) — South Sudan government is seeking endorsements from holdout opposition groups to move the Rome talks, which were halted because of the coronavirus pandemic, to Juba, a government official said on Sunday.

South Sudan government and holdout opposition alliance, the South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA, have been in talks meant to secure the holdout opposition’s return to Juba to completedly end the ongoing civil war.

SSOMA is an opposition umbrella comprising of the Real-SPLM led by former SPLM Scretaty-General Pagan Amum, South Sudan National Democratic Alliance (SSNDA) led by General Thomas Cirilo and South Sudan United Front and Army (SSUF/A) led by ex-South Sudan army chief General Paul Malong Awan.

It is not a signatory to the 2018 revitalized peace agreement signed by President Salva Kiir and SPLM-IO leader Dr. Riek Machar – who is now the country’s first vice president as per the 2018 peace deal – in Addis Ababa.

The Rome talks were halted in January following the outbreak of the ongoing Coronavirus crisis which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late December last year.

The parties to the talks said later that month that there was possibility of moving the venue of the talks to Brussels, Belgium, after Italy was shut down because of increasing coronavirus concerns.

However, speaking to Nyamilepedia on Sunday, a senior government official said from Juba that the government – now consisting of several opposition group and the former government – was seeking endorsement from the holdout opposition alliance to move talks yo Juba because of the magnitude of the COVID-19 in Europe and else where in Africa.

He said the government had consulted the opposition groups over the issue because there was no other place possible for the talks but said the government hasn’t heard from them since.

“We are saying that the world is in crisis and there is no where to conduct such talks,” the government official said. “The onlybplace possible for that is now Juba which is better compared to those EU countries.”

For his part, Emmanuel Ajawin, a senior member of the SSOMA told Nyamilepedia separately that they haven’t heard from the government about any request to move the talks to Juba but said they won’t accept that and preferred anywhere outside South Sudan.

“We haven’t received any formal communication from the mediators regarding the subject matter you raised. It is impractical at this time to move talks to Juba,” he said.

“You need a conducive environment for talks and at the moment Rome or anywhere outside Juba will be acceptable to SSOMA,” he added.

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