South Sudan Prepares to Resume Talks with Holdout Rebel Groups Ahead of Elections

Preparations for the Sant’Egidio mediated talks are set to resume in Rome, Italy, the latest attempt to ensure no group remains out before the country goes into elections.

The talks will review the “Declaration of Principles” including the federal nature of government and the division of powers; national identity and respect for ethnic, cultural, and linguistic differences; the creation of the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) and the National Constitution Review Commission (NCRC) and the creation of an oversight mechanism on economic governance.

The parties are also expected to touch previous documents on the reform of the civil and public sector, including restructuring the security sector, the internal borders between the different regions of the country, the respect of territories and rights of indigenous communities, and the active participation of the international community in all the phases.

Presidential Affairs Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin who is also the head of the government negotiating team told Sudan Tribune on Thursday preparations were continuing and will be made public once completed.

The holdout groups participating in the Rome process are two factions of the South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA), including Thomas Cirilo NAS leader and his allied groups and from the other side an SPLM faction led by Pagan Amum and the SSUF leader Paul Malong.

The latest round of negotiations will also attempt to tackle the thorny political issue of expanding a transitional government of national unity.

Government detractors say Juba was unwilling to resume talk, pointing to purported parallel efforts by the Dinka elders to convince Malong to return to Juba.

The conflict in South Sudan has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced more than two million. The United Nations says at least half the country is at risk of hunger and disease.

Chol Mawel