Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

A new round of talks between the South Sudanese government and armed groups not signatories to the 2018 peace deal kicked off on Thursday in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement leader Pagan Amum, on behalf of the non-signatory groups, expressed deep concern about South Sudan’s “slide into chaos and collapse.”

Amum stressed their historic role as founders of this nation, calling for a “serious and positive dialogue” to overcome “hatred” and achieve peace, and described the tour as a “last chance” to save the country.

President Salva Kiir also affirmed his government’s commitment to “the spirit of openness and goodwill” in these negotiations, expressing hope for genuine participation by armed groups in the peace process.

The 2018 agreement provided for the formation of a national unity government with Kiir as president and his opponent Riek Machar as vice president, but ongoing power struggles between the two men have hampered implementation of the deal, fueling violence and a crippling economic crisis.

Negotiations have stalled since the signing of the ceasefire agreement in 2020, due to accusations by the South Sudanese government, Juba, that the rebels are using them to “procrastinate and prepare for war”.

In late 2023, Juba asked Kenya to remediate the talks, and retired army chief of staff Lazarus Sumbeiyo was given the task.

Sumbeiyo played a pivotal role in reaching the peace deal between Sudan and South Sudanese rebels in 2005, paving the way for South Sudan’s independence six years later.

Opposition groups involved in the current negotiations include the South Sudan United Front (SSUF), the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), the South Sudan People’s Movement (SSAM), and the National Salvation Front – Revolutionary Command Council (RCC).

The ongoing conflict is between government forces and opposition forces. It began on December 15, 2013, and has ethnic and political roots, as the Dinka and Nuer tribes were heavily involved in the civil war, and accused President Salva Kiir, who belongs to the Dinka, of trying to eliminate political opposition within his party, which led to the outbreak of fighting.

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