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SSOMA - 20 Aug 2021

‘President Kiir wants to exit Rome talks to wage war’-SSOMA

Gen. Thomas Cirillo Swaka
Gen. Thomas Cirillo Swaka

The South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA) led by Gen. Thomas Cirillo has accused President Salva Kiir of deliberately planning to exit the Sant’Egidio mediated Rome talks so that he can launch all-out attacks on the alliance’s forces, particularly the National Salvation Front (NAS) in areas of Central Equatoria State.

In a press release on Thursday responding to President Kiir’s statement on the ambushing and killing of two nuns and three other (men) travelers on the Juba-Nimule road on Monday, SSOMA condemned the president’s statement and indicted him of wishing to keep the country in a state of perpetual war and insecurity.

On Tuesday, President Kiir wrote: “The Government signed the Rome Declaration, the Recommitment to Cessation of Hostilities and the Declaration of Principles with the Holdout Groups with the goal of stopping the fighting and saving innocent lives. Now that the non-signatories to the Revitalized Peace Agreement continue to violate these commitments, the Government may reconsider its position on the ongoing Sant’Egidio led Rome Initiative. Our pursuit of an inclusive peace should never be taken for weakness and used as a window to kill the innocent.”

SSOMA’s statement read in part, “The South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA) has come across a disturbing statement by the President of the Republic of South Sudan. On the 17th of August. 2021, the President of the Republic of South Sudan, Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, issued a statement on the killing of the innocent civilians along the Juba-Nimule road, in which he fallaciously laid the responsibility of the attacks on the “Holdout Group”, regime’s usual derogatory reference to the SSOMA. In the same statement, the President threatened to reconsider his regime’s position on the ongoing Sant’Egidio Peace Process.”

It added: “SSOMA denounces and condemns in the strongest terms possible President Salva Kiir’s statement. The statement is irresponsible, false, misguided, revealing yet again the lack of sympathy for the lives lost, and the usual wish to keep the country in a state of perpetual war and insecurity as the President prepares to launch a military offensive on SSOMA’s members’ position.”

SSOMA said it is an alliance of patriotic organizations that are committed to realizing the aspirations of the people of South Sudan to live in freedom and dignity and cannot commit atrocities against the very people it is struggling to liberate from the tyranny of the regime in Juba. 

“SSOMA holds the regime of Salva Kiir responsible for the highway robberies and killings in South Sudan. The road ambushes in South Sudan have increased dramatically, especially on Juba-Nimule road,” the SSOMA statement said. “The government on several occasions has been displaying criminals suspected to have been behind these road ambushes and kidnappings on national TV. Most of these criminals, unfortunately, are members of SSPDF and the Tiger Division, the President’s personal bodyguards.”

The opposition grouping said it was not surprised by the anti-dialogue and pro-violence rhetoric of President Kiir and that it will not deter them from the course of pursuing just and lasting peace in South Sudan.

“SSOMA assures the citizens of South Sudan of its commitment to work hard with all like-minded groups in the country to bring the suffering of the people to an end,” the statement read. “SSOMA is aware of and closely monitoring the regime’s troop build-up in Yei, Morobo, Kojo-Keji, and Lobonok in preparations for all-out attacks against the forces of the National Salvation Front (NAS).

According to SSOMA, the utterances aimed at revoking the Rome Declaration are a desperate tactic and a smokescreen for seeking justification to wage a military offensive against their positions.

The armed opposition consortium also fingered SSPDF troops of targeting the church and killing scores of clergymen in the past. 

“The Church and the Christian community have been persecuted and targeted by elements of the Kiir regime for the last few years. At least forty (40) church leaders have been killed by the regime of Salva Kiir across South Sudan between December 2013 and March 2017,” SSOMA charged. “These attacks and killing incidences include: the killing of a Slovak Catholic nun and physician, Veronica Teresa Rackova, in Yei County in 2016 by an SSPDF, Rev. Simon Kwaje in 2017 in Yei County; Johnson Makueth Akken and his wife of House of God for All Nations shot dead in Gudele Block 4 on 3rd May 2021…” 

SSOMA called on the international community and relevant organizations to investigate the incidents and inform the people of South Sudan of the perpetrators of these killings.

“SSOMA is committed to the Rome Declaration and reaffirmed its commitment to the Cessation of Hostilities; however, reserves the right to defend itself and the people of South Sudan if attacked,” the press release concluded.