South Sudan

South Sudan said on Friday it will continue to have talks with holdout opposition groups despite their being split into various factions, which have caused the peace process to break down on several occasions.

Government lead negotiator Barnaba Marial Benjamin said the holdout groups, previously under South Sudan Opposition Movement Alliance (SSOMA), split into two factions.

“We hope during this month (January) we resume the talks,” Benjamin told Xinhua in Juba. “What the government is interested in is to bring peace in South Sudan to all the people wherever they are.” He said one faction of the SSOMA will continue to hold talks with the government in Italy, while the other one will meet with government representatives in Kenya.

“Their division will not affect our position as government. We will continue talking to them separately. We have done a lot already and will continue with the remaining issues,” Benjamin said.

The peace process mediated by the Catholic community of Sant’Egidio started in November 2019, but broke down later before, resuming in October last year, when the parties initiated a declaration of principles, which contains principles on observing a ceasefire and allowing unhindered humanitarian access across the country.

The parties then disagreed over a proposal by some opposition delegates to return to the 1956 internal boundaries, before South Sudan declared impendence from Sudan in 2011.

They also demanded subjecting the amended constitution to a referendum. Meanwhile, Ismail Wais, special envoy of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional body that mediated the 2018 revitalized peace deal in South Sudan, said IGAD is proposing the relocation of the Rome peace talks to an African country to bring the process closer home.

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