9th April 2020
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Cirillo, Malong recommit to CoH Agreement in Rome Declaration

Author: Jale Richard | Published: Monday, January 13, 2020

Both General Thomas Cirillo and General Paul Malong served under Kiir in the SPLA-now SSPDF.

Opposition groups that have not signed the revitalized peace agreement have signed a declaration in Rome to cease hostilities and further political dialogue in order to participate in the ongoing peace process.

The talks between South Sudan government and the Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA) took place in Rome, under the auspices of the church-the community of Sant’ Egidio.

The SSOMA is a coalition of nine opposition groups formed in February 2018. Prominent members include former army generals Paul Malong who is heading the South Sudan United Front/Army,  Thomas Cirillo Swaka leading the National Salvation Front (NAS), and former SPLM party secretary general.

In 2019, Thomas Cirillo’s NAS forces have particularly clashed with a combined force of the SSPDF and SPLA-IO mainly in areas of Yei River state.

The Rome meeting was a follow-up to last year’s convention in November 2019 when the Catholic Church met leaders of agreement hold-out groups.

On January  13, Cirillo, Malong  and Amum all signed the declaration expressing interest in using nonviolent means to address their grievances.

Dubbed as Rome Declaration, they reaffirmed their will to fostering political dialogue in order to facilitate further reconciliation and stabilization by addressing what they called “the root causes of the conflict in South Sudan.”

They say they are convinced that the current conflict in the country requires a comprehensive political engagement in order to achieve inclusive and sustainable peace with the non-signatories to the revitalized peace agreement.

“We agreed that the dialogue shall continue under the auspices of Sant’ Egidio in consultation with IGAD and with support of regional organizations and the international community,” they said in the declaration.

They also declared to recommit and adhere to the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement of December 2017 to avoid any further armed confrontation across the country, saying “it would create a conducive environment for dialogue.”

The Rome Declaration also tasks the church to urgently convene a meeting with IGAD to discuss issues related to monitoring and verification of the ceasefire, which shall come in to effect on January 15.

The non-signatories also reaffirmed their commitment to allowing uninterrupted humanitarian access to local and international organizations.

The Presidential Advisor and Special Envoy, Barnaba Marial Benjamin signed on behalf of the government delegation, while Henry Dilah Odwar, the deputy chairperson to Dr. Riek Machar’s SPLM/IO signed as a witness.

Gen. Cirillo had argued that the 2018 revitalized peace agreement did not address the root causes of the conflict, and that his movement is “not after positions” in reference to the power-sharing formula adopted by the parties to govern the country during the transitional period.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) however rejected reopening the whole agreement for re-negotiations after its signing in September 2018.

Gen. Paul Malong demanded participation in the negotiations of the peace talks but was denied the opportunity by the mediators.

He fell out with President Salva Kiir after being dismissed as the army Chief of Staff in 2017.

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