Last month, the leadership of Sant’Egidio, the Rome-based lay Catholic association, hosted a four-day meeting that brought together South Sudan’s Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (RTGoNU), the South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance-South Sudan United Front/Army (SSOMA SSUF/A) and the SSOMA-Real Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SSOMA Real SPLM).
At the end of the July 15-18 meeting that was held in the presence of observers from the international community, South Sudan’s warrying parties signed two documents, including the one in which they expressed their commitment to attending other meetings to be held in Rome in three successive months from September this year.
The meetings, the community of Sant’Egidio noted, are expected to lead, in the hope of the mediators and international observers, to a final peace agreement between the parties in South Sudan conflict.
Officials of the lay Catholic community further noted that during the four days, the parties signed a roadmap for including the Real SPLM and SSUF/A in the Ceasefire & Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring & Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM).
In the meeting that was attended by representatives of the governments of Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, Switzerland and Japan, as well as representatives of the European Union, the parties in conflict also signed a roadmap for political dialogue on the causes of the protracted civil strife in the East/Central African nation, and expressed their commitment to signing a comprehensive agreement.
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Others at the meeting were representatives from IGAD, United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), RJMEC, and CTSAMVM.
The Rome-based Catholic community has previously hosted a series of other peace talks aimed at working towards all-inclusive peace in South Sudan, including meetings in partnership with South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) both in Juba and in Rome aimed at facilitating reconciliation and peace in the world’s youngest nation.
In his two-page August 17 “Statement on Killing of Innocent Civilians on Juba-Nimule Highway”, President Kiir expresses his condolences to Archbishop Stephen Ameyu, “the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Catholic Diocese of Juba, and the Congregation of Sacred Hearts, and the families of Sisters Mary Abud and Regina Roba who were callously murdered yesterday on the Juba-Nimule Highway.”
“My heart also goes out to other three innocent civilians who died on this cowardly attacked,” the South Sudanese President says.
“While we mourn the departed, let us equally pray that God gives us the strength we need to overcome this traumatic experience,” President Kiir says, and further implores, “Let us also pray for the Church leadership to remain strong despite the shocking experience of this tragedy.”
Meanwhile, Pope Francis has offered his “heartfelt condolences” to the families and to the members of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of Juba Archdiocese.
In a telegraph sent through Vatican’s Secretary of State, Pietro Cardinal Parolin, the Holy Father expresses his deep sadness following what he calls the “brutal attack” and the “senseless act of violence,” Vatican News reported August 17.
The Pope expressed the hope that the sacrifice of the two Catholic Sisters “will advance the cause of peace, reconciliation and security in the region” and implored God for “their eternal rest and the comfort of those who grieve their loss.”
In the two Sisters, SHS Superior General says in her August 17 statement, “the Congregation has lost great resource persons with excelling leadership qualities.”
“May their innocent blood unite us in our Congregation more and bring peace to this Country of South Sudan, which has never known true peace,” She says in reference to Sr. Mary Daniel and Sr. Regina, natives of South Sudan’s Wau Diocese and Yei Diocese respectively.
This story was updated on 19 August 2021 at 12.15 East African Time.