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Rome-Based Lay Catholic Association Meets South Sudan’s President Over Peace Process

President Salva Kiir Mayardit with members of the delegation from the Sant’Egidio community, led by its Secretary-General, Dr. Paolo Impagliazzo and Professor Andrea Bartholi. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The leadership of the Rome-based lay Catholic association dedicated to the provision of social services and arbitrating conflicts, Sant’Egidio Community, has met with South Sudan’s President to discuss the peace process in the East-Central African nation. 

A Wednesday, February 2 report by the Catholic Radio Network confirms the Tuesday, February 1 meeting between a delegation from the Sant’Egidio Community and President Salva Kiir Mayardit in South Sudan’s capital, Juba.

“A delegation from the Sant’Egidio community, led by its Secretary-General, Dr. Paolo Impagliazzo accompanied by Professor Andrea Bartholi on Tuesday met with President Salva Kiir Mayardit in Juba to discuss how the process of Rome Peace Initiative between the government of South Sudan and the non-signatory opposition groups, under the meditation of Community of Sant’Egidio is going to proceed,” South Sudan’s Minister for Presidential Affairs, Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin has been quoted as saying.

The South Sudanese Minister adds in reference to the participants in the February 1 meeting, “They had a long conversation on how the process of the Rome peace initiative with the non-signatories is going to proceed.”

During the meeting, Dr. Marial says, President Kiir “reiterated his gratitude to the Community of Sant’ Egidio for the support and leadership they have been exhibiting since the commencement of the negotiations between the Government of South Sudan and the non-signatory opposition groups to make the Peace process more inclusive.”

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“The President assured the Secretary-General and his delegation that the government of the Republic of South Sudan is ready to resume those peace talks, and has already appointed me as the head of that government delegation to go for those talks,” the South Sudanese government official has been quoted as saying. 

On their part, Sant'egidio representatives at the meeting “thanked the president for lifting the stoppage of the peace talk previously,” Dr. Marial is quoted as reporting, adding, “Saint Egidio would engage with all stakeholders to finalize terms for inclusive peace in South Sudan.”

“The Secretary-General was appreciative and praised the President for his great love for peace for this country,” the Minister further says in reference to Dr. Paolo Impagliazzo who, he adds, “assured the President that they would be organizing the days for the meeting between the government and with the South Sudan Opposition Movement Alliance (SSOMA).”

On 5 November 2021, President Kiir announced the resumption of the Rome peace talks with the Holdout Groups after he had earlier suspended the peace process following the 16 August 2021  bus ambush along Juba-Nimule highway in which two Catholic Nuns alongside three other civilians lost their lives. 

“I am today asking the community of Saint-Egidio to begin the preparation for the resumption of Rome peace talks with holdout groups without any preconditions,” the President said last November.

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In March 2021, opposition parties in South Sudan announced their intention to recommit to the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) signed in December 2017.

In a joint declaration issued 8 March 2021, the representatives of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGONU) and South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA) agreed to recommit to CoHA, the Rome Declaration and the Rome Resolution, which would constitute the basis for subsequent political dialogue.

Patrick Juma Wani contributed to the writing of this story