CIRILO Demands renegotiation, IGAD en-route for Malong

NAS leader,Gen. Thomas Cirilo (file photos)

By Woja Emmanuel Wani

Leader of National Salvation Front (NAS) General Thomas Cirilo demanded for renegotiation of the Revitalized- Peace Agreement during a meeting with IGAD in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last Friday as the regional leaders leave to meet Paul Malong in Nairobi. The meeting with Malong is scheduled for tomorrow in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

The East African regional bloc IGAD recently ruled out a renegotiation of the September 2018 peace agreement.

NAS leader Cirilo met with IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan Amb. Ismail Wais last Friday in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and discussed how he could join the peace process.

However, the meeting had been adjourned to Thursday this week after Cirilo demanded for the Revitalized-Peace Agreement to be renegotiated.

According to Cirilo, Federal system of governance, lean parliament an executive, and the three former regions of Upper Nile, Bahr El Ghazal and Equatoria were to be considered.

Last week, Malong’s spokesman, and Sunday de’ John criticized the regional bloc for attaching preconditions for further talks about the peace deal.

The IGAD special envoy to South Sudan Ismail Wais and Gen. Paul Malong are scheduled to meet in Nairobi, Kenya tomorrow.

They are expected to discuss the modalities for Malong’s group participation in the peace process.

Mr. Sunday called on the regional bloc to help open talks on the revitalized peace deal. “Peace cannot be achieved if there is no dialogue in South Sudan,” he said.

The rebel official dismissed the peace agreement signed by President Salva Kiir and several opposition groups last year as fatally flawed.

“The revitalized peace agreement has not addressed the root cause of the conflict. It focused on positions only, so we want it to be reopened,” he said.

“IGAD has invited us for a meeting and at the same time is saying the peace agreement will not be reopened for negotiations, so how will we join it?” he asked.

Sunday further said his group wants to see a federal system of government introduced in South Sudan.

He said the current 32 states created by President Kiir will not end conflicts in the country.

“One of our demands is that the current leadership should be changed. We are going to meet IGAD soon and we will ask them again to reopen the agreement,” he said.

In November last year, the East African regional bloc warned that the non-signatory groups in South Sudan would “be categorized as spoilers of the peace process” if they rejected peace.

In an invitation letter dated 1 March and addressed to the holdout rebel leader Gen. Thomas Cirilo of the National Salvation Front (NAS), the regional bloc of eight member states said any group unwilling to join the revitalized peace deal and whose activities impede its full implementation would be considered as a spoiler and held accountable.

The coalition of non-signatory groups, which demands for a federal system of governance and devolution of powers to the regions, is composed of NAS, SSNMC, NDM, and UDRA. It is led by NAS leader Thomas Cirilo.

The letter, bearing the name of IGAD special envoy for South Sudan, said any new rebel group will not be admitted into the revitalized peace deal, except through the revitalized peace framework.

IGAD stressed that any activity attributable to forces allied to a non-signatory group in South Sudan will be deemed dully authorized by the leadership of that group.

The special envoy urged the leader of the rebel group National Salvation Front (NAS), Gen. Cirilo to declare a unilateral ceasefire.

“In light of the above, I would like to invite you and your team to a meeting on 8th March 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,” Ismail wrote.

He explained that the upcoming meeting aims at discussing substantive issues regarding the possibility and modalities of NAS rejoining the revitalized peace accord and the peace process.

On his part, NAS’s spokesperson Suba Samuel Manase told reporters that they had received the invitation letter from IGAD.

“The leadership of the South Sudan National Democratic Alliance met and adopted a position. Our position on the letter will be released soon,” he said.

“We don’t want to comment on the letter now but what I can say is that the letter contains threats. I don’t see any possibility of talks in the letter,” he added.

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