Lift Suspension on Rome Peace Talks, Catholic Bishop Urges South Sudanese Government

Bishop Alex Lodiong Sakor Eyobo of South Sudan's Yei Diocese. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Catholic Bishop of South Sudan’s Yei Diocese is urging the South Sudanese government to reconsider the suspension of the Rome peace talks, and return to the negotiation table.               

Last November, the government of South Sudan announced it was suspending its participation in in the Rome peace talks, accusing the Non-Signatories South Sudanese Opposition Groups (NSSSOG) of “lacking commitment” and preparing for war.

In a Tuesday, January 3 report, Bishop Alex Lodiong Sakor Eyobo faults the government of the East-Central African nation for pulling out of the peace talks and expresses the Catholic Church’s support for the peace negotiations that Sant’Egidio Community, the Rome-based lay Catholic association dedicated to the provision of social services and arbitrating conflicts, spearheads.

“We are encouraging the government to talk things out. This suspension should be lifted,” Bishop Lodiong has been quoted as saying. 

The South Sudanese Catholic Bishop adds that lifting the suspension on the peace talks will pave the way for the parties to “go to the table” of dialogue.


He invites the parties in the South Sudan conflict to “dialogue issues instead of fighting because fighting and guns never solve issues.”

In his New Year 2023 address, President Salva Kiir said the peace talks remain suspended until the opposition groups show real commitment to peace. He declared 2023 a year of reconciliation, forgiveness and development, calling on South Sudanese to do more in the search for a lasting peace in their country. 

In the January 3 report, Bishop Lodiong faults the South Sudanese government for pulling out of the peace talks “at a critical time when dialogue is needed most.”

“They said they are withdrawing because one of the groups is preparing for war. In my opinion, that is not the right direction to take because you don’t stop talking when things are hot, instead it is the opposite,” the Local Ordinary of Yei Diocese says.

The 51-year-old South Sudanese Bishop who started his Episcopal Ministry in May last year underscores the need to resume the peace talks, saying, “When things are difficult, this is the moment people talk; you don’t talk when things are okay.”

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He expresses the readiness of the Catholic Church to facilitate “the resumption of the talks and also be observers in those kinds of talks.” 

In this way, Bishop Lodiong says, “We will help ourselves and our people to rest a little bit because our people have suffered for too long.”

Last month, the leadership of Sant’Egidio Community met with South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir, over the resumption of the suspended peace talks. 

“The delegation discussed the importance of political dialogue between the government and the hold-out groups to end the violence,” South Sudan’s Presidential Affairs Minister, Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, was quoted as saying.

President Kiir “lauded the community of Sant'Egidio for their commitment to support the peace process and bringing together both sides to agree on an inclusive peace process in South Sudan.” 


On their part, Sant'Egidio representatives at the meeting reportedly reiterated their commitment “to bring peace and stability to Africa’s youngest nation.”

“We will continue mediating between the government and holdout groups in order to find an amicable solution for the sake of the South Sudanese people,” the Secretary General of Sant'Egidio Community, Dr. Paolo Impagliazzo, was quoted as saying.

Dr. Impagliazzo added, “We are committed to bringing the two sides closer for common understanding to restore peace and stability in South Sudan.” 

Patrick Juma Wani is a South Sudanese journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. Patrick holds a Diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication from Makerere Institute for Social Development (MISD) in Uganda. He has over 7 years of extensive experience in leading the development and implementation of media, advocacy, communication and multimedia strategy and operations, with an excellent track record of editorial leadership, budget management, and stakeholder outreach. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.