March 20th - 25th, 2023
Prof. Mario Giro and Members of the Community of Sant’ Egidio,
The Government Delegation,
Distinguished Members of the International Community,
Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen,
We, the Leaders and Members of the Non-Signatories South Sudan Opposition Group NSSOG convey our warmest greetings to the Community of Sant’Egidio for convening this dialogue between us and the Government of South Sudan.
Once again, we have come to Rome in a genuine quest for peace for our beloved people of South Sudan. Since 2020, the Community of Sant’Egidio has been engaged in the search for durable peace in South Sudan. We commend your efforts and continuing commitment to working to achieve permanent peace in South Sudan.
This meeting also comes after the recent visit of His Holiness Pope Francis and the Ecumenical entourage to South Sudan. The Pastoral visit of the Pope has lifted the hope of the people of South Sudan that peace will not be elusive anymore. The peace-loving people of South Sudan hope that this time around the Government Leaders will heed the appeal of the Pope and not disappoint him again as it has happened after the retreat in Rome in 2019.
We recognize and applaud the material and diplomatic support of the international community: TROIKA, AU, EU, and UN for the people of South Sudan. We equally welcome IGAD Member State Delegations in today’s meeting and appreciate their pivotal role in the search for peace in our country.
We seize this opportunity to extend an open invitation to all friends of South Sudan to support us in our desire to shape the future of the country through an inclusive national political process.
South Sudan is in dire straits and on the brink of collapse and total disintegration. The hope of the people of South Sudan in realizing their human worth and dignity as citizens of an independent nation is trampled under the present government in Juba. We are witnessing State capture by a clique in Juba and the looting of the resources of the nation represented by the mortgaging of the country’s resources like oil, the rampant illegal mining, timber siphoning of gold, and other non-oil revenues leave alone heavy indebtedness incurred through irresponsible and corrupt borrowing.
The Government of the day has failed to provide security, instead, it has orchestrated division among the citizens and that is why there are widespread inter- and intra-communal conflicts in the country. For example, the ongoing conflicts between the Chollo, Dinka, and Nuer communities in Upper Nile; Twic and Ngok, and Tonj communities of Warrap in Greater Bahr-El-Ghazal. In addition, there is an ongoing conflict caused by cattle herder’s movement and land grabbing in the agrarian communities of Gondokoro, Mangala, Kajo-Keji, Lainya, and Yei among others in Equatoria. These ethnic conflicts have been engineered by the government in Juba as part of its ethnocentric policy of dividing to rule to remain in power. This has further shattered the already fragile social fabric of our nation. The government has continued to brutalize and oppress the people of South Sudan to unimaginable levels resulting in killings of innocent civilians, systematic rape, and massive displacement of civilians to neighboring countries. This has compounded the suffering of women, children, and the elderly.
Despite the brutalities being meted on them by the current regime, the resilience and resolve of the people of South Sudan remain strong and undaunted. The people’s struggle for freedom, justice, rule of law, democracy, and dignified life cannot be compromised by buying off political leaders and blindfolding them with government positions.
Since independence, the ruling elites in Juba have been evading addressing the root causes of the conflict in the country to bring about lasting peace, security, and prosperity for fear of losing power to the people. Instead, they have engaged in signing fake agreements and dishing out political positions to power-hungry individuals. They thrive on creating transitional periods to continue the status quo with total disregard for the country. These flawed agreements and cycles of transitions will have to come to an end through a new Political Dispensation.
As the transition has elapsed, this consultative meeting comes in a defining moment for people and the country to establish a new system of people’s centered governance. The failed Revitalized Agreement for the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS), 2018 ended since February 23rd, 2023. Unfortunately, the parties of the defunct R-TGoNU have arrogated themselves the right to illegally extend their stay in power for another two years. The parties have also come up with the so-called Roadmap which is nothing but a smokescreen to blindfold the people of South Sudan and the International Community to continue with their policies that have destroyed the social fabric of the country, thus sending the country into an abyss. The government is abrasive to the suffering of the people and that is why they have unilaterally renewed the transitional period which for them is a practice of business as usual. Hence, the current government is a de facto rather than de jure.
The Non-Signatory South Sudan Opposition Group would like to make it poignantly clear and in no uncertain terms that we reject the unilateral decision of the defunct Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R- TGoNU) to extend their stay in power for another two years to continue tormenting the people of South Sudan.
Given the expiration of the R-ARCSS, we call for an Inclusive all Stakeholder Round-Table Conference to discuss and address the root causes of the conflict in the country to usher in a new political dispensation. This in our view is the most viable solution for rescuing the country from collapse and total disintegration.
We in the NSSOG shoulder the responsibility to rescue our country and have vowed to continue the struggle for freedom, justice, equality, and democracy for our people. It is because of this great sense of responsibility for our people that we have joined hands to work together to collectively bring about a permanent solution to the conflict in our country. It is precisely because of this sense of responsibility that the NSSOG together with other South Sudanese opposition groups, civil society, women, youth, faith-based fraternity, associations of academia, and professionals come together to form the National Consensus Forum (NCF) in order to chart a new future for the country. The National Consensus Forum is our only hope to remedy and rescue the country from descending into total anarchy and disintegration.
On behalf of the NSSOG, NCF, and peace-loving people of South Sudan, we invite the Government in Juba to join the people of South Sudan in this Round-Table Conference to discuss the root causes of the conflict in the country and bring about permanent peace and stability.
We are committed to the peaceful resolution of the conflict in South Sudan through an Inclusive Round-Table Conference of all South Sudanese Stakeholders. We also affirm our commitment to the transformation of the Rome Peace Initiative into an inclusive Round-table Conference under the auspices of the CSE as the best channel for pursuing and achieving lasting and sustainable peace in our country.
As we look forward to a constructive engagement, we envisage this dialogue to be the beacon of hope for the downtrodden people of South Sudan. May this day go down in history as a turning point for the people of South Sudan to embrace and achieve lasting peace.
Gen. Thomas Cirillo Swaka
On behalf of the NSSOG