By Deng Machol
Juba – The transitional government of South Sudan and holdout groups, formerly known as South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA) faction have recommitted themselves to respect and adhere to a “Cessation of Hostilities Agreement” signed on December 21, 2017.
The talks between the government and the holdout opposition groups started in 2019.
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.
The international community has often demanded that SSOMA be part of the current revitalized peace agreement.
The rival parties made a recommitment on Monday while holding talks in Naivasha, Kenya in a bid to end the war and return to join the revitalized peace agreement in the country, which is partial formed.
The ex – army chief Gen. Paul Malong Awan and Pagan Amum Okiech are both leading the faction of the rebel umbrella, South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA).
The faction is made up of the Real Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (R-SPLM) and the South Sudan United Front/Army (SSUF/A), who then refused to take part in 2018 peace deal.
The group 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.
In its six-point statement seen by Pan African Visions, the parties say they have “recommitted themselves to respect and adhere to the Rome Declaration of 12th January 2020 and the Rome Resolution of 13th February 2020.”
However, both sides agreed to “abstain from any form of violence against civilians including sexual and gender-based violence and duly investigate in a timely manner and hold those responsible to account”
Pagan Amum, who leads Real-SPLM, told the conference that his intentions were to find lasting solutions to the underlying problems hindering political and economic stability in South Sudan.
“It’s time for us to rebuild our broken lives. We cannot continue causing problems to ourselves and to the region and expect our region to spend all time and resources, trying to solve our problems,” said Amum, former ruling party’s secretary-general.
Parties also agreed to “grant unhindered and unconditional access to humanitarian assistance to all areas and recommitted to include SSOMA into Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM) structures with the support of the regional bloc IGAD and international partners.”
The parties further said they “agreed to establish a channel of communication between SSOMA and CTSAMVM up to the time of its full inclusion into the STSAMVM structures and guarantee unfettered access for STSAMVM to monitor and verify compliance with the cessation of hostilities agreement.”
The signatories of the statement concluded by agreeing to continue the political dialogue as part of the ongoing peace process to address concerns, the root causes of the conflict to achieve sustainable peace in South Sudan.
The parties also discussed a framework for peace negotiations in which all political issues will be thoroughly discussed in this round of talks, in the root causes of the conflict in South Sudan.
The ongoing peace talks will create a new phase of transition that addresses the past mistakes and allow to achieve the democratic transformation in South Sudan.
The parties are scheduled to continue negotiating in Naivasha, Kenya until March 12. The talks are facilitated by the Rome-based Sant’Egidio Community in coordination with the government of Kenya; are aimed at supporting an inclusive peace agreement in South Sudan by persuading the holdout group to join the revitalized peace deal signed in September 2018.