NAIROBI/KENYA – South Sudan’s armed opposition leader General Paul Malong Awan has said that the root causes of the ongoing conflict must first be addressed if he and his group were to participate in the peace process.
Malong who is the leader of South Sudan United Front/Army (SSUF/A), a rebel group fighting the government of South Sudan, is not a signatory to the revitalized peace agreement signed by the government of President Salva Kiir and many other opposition groups in September 2018.
He said a new peace process that will address the root causes of the six-year-old conflict in the world’s youngest nation will bring the country back to peace;
This came following a meeting hosted and mediated by the Rome-based Sant’ Egidio Community.
“The Comprehensive Peace Agreement was implemented by Khartoum because the United States and some European countries participated in its implementation as guarantors. The revitalised peace deal is now facing a lot of challenges because the guarantors are not decisive,” Malong said in an interview.
Malong has appealed to the international community to monitor the South Sudan peace process and put more efforts to make it a success.
He pointed out that the non-signatories to the 2018 peace agreement will continue engaging the incumbent government to accept sustainable peace, saying addressing the root causes of the conflict is important for building peace.
“If the government agrees to address the root causes of the conflict, then we don’t have a problem with it. We will join the government under a peace agreement that can address the issues of the conflict,” he said.
The opposition official accused some government officials of working to thwart peace efforts in South Sudan, but he offered no specific details to support his allegation.
“Some anti-peace elements have started circulating baseless allegations on social media saying that Malong has threatened to withdraw from the Rome Declaration. I want to say it is not true that I am planning to pull out of the Rome agreement,” he said.
Malong, a former army chief sanctioned by the United States in 2017 for allegedly obstructing peace efforts, said he was ready to give peace a chance in the war-torn country.