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Here is why SSOMA walked out of a ceasefire meeting in Rome

Authors: Alhadi Hawari | Obaj Okuj | Published: Thursday, November 12, 2020

Leaders of the holdout groups, from left: Gen. Thomas Cirillo, Gen. Paul Malong and Pagan Amum in Rome in January 2020 | Credit | Courtesy

The South Sudan Opposition Alliance has suspended its participation in ceasefire monitoring workshops in Rome, accusing the government of violating the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement.

“…what is the essence of the discussion about trust-building and how to normalize working environment yet the government is going ahead with their hostilities?” the National Salvation Front, a member of SSOMA wondered.

The announcement came one day after NAS and SSPDF exchanged accusations over the recent clashes in the Central Equatoria State

The Rome workshop was aimed at building trust between SSOMA and South Sudan government and thus create a conducive environment for further negotiations.

SSOMA is a coalition of opposition groups led by Thomas Cirillo, Paul Malong, Pagan Amum, among others.

It was organized by the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism, CTSSAM-VM.

In a press statement issued on Wednesday, SSOMA said the recent violations by the government demonstrate its lack of political will to recommit to the peace negotiations.

“All the parties under SSOMA walked out from the hall because – I remember – one of our working principles is that an attack on any member of SSOMA is an attack on all the members of SSOMA,” said Suba Samuel, NAS spokesperson.

But the deputy spokesperson of the SSPDF said the army has restrained its soldiers from any provocative action that may jeopardize the peace process.

“We are here to create enabling environment to attract anybody who is yearning for peace and this is the policy of the government of South Sudan to resolve all the conflicts through peaceful means,” Brigadier General Santo Domic said.

The government and the Opposition Alliance signed the Rome Declaration to recommit to the ceasefire agreement on January 12, 2020.

Brig.Gen. Domic reiterated the commitment of the SSPDF to the ceasefire and cessation of hostilities agreement signed with the South Sudan Opposition Alliance.

“The SSPDF leadership has launched a very serious awareness across its ranks in the wake of the peace deal or peace negotiations in Rome so that SSPDF don’t really react to any provocation made by any of the opponents,” he claimed.

International partners have insisted that the Opposition Alliance should be included in the established mechanisms to monitor ceasefire violations.

The holdout armed groups are not currently represented in the ceasefire monitoring body, CTSSAM-VM.

Last month, both sides met in Rome, Italy to show “recommitment of SSOMA and R-TGoNU to Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA), participation in the CTSAMVM, and negotiation on Declaration of Principles to guide upcoming talks to address the root causes of the conflict in South Sudan.”

They signed a Declaration of Principle to guide upcoming negotiations. The talks are expected to resume on 30th November 2020.

Despite pulling out from the CTSSAM workshop, the South Sudan Opposition Alliance noted that it is still committed to the Rome Peace Process under the auspices of the Community of Sant’Egidio, describing it as a genuine vehicle to sustainable peace in South Sudan.

The Sant’Egidio-led mediation is aimed at supporting an inclusive peace agreement in South Sudan by persuading the hold-out group to join the revitalized peace deal signed in September 2018.

The political dialogue seeks to address what the opposition groups called “the root causes of the conflict in South Sudan” and facilitate further reconciliation and stability.

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