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NAIROBI - 12 Mar 2019

Malong's group calls for direct talks with government

Photo: SSUF leader Paul Malong
Photo: SSUF leader Paul Malong

The rebel group South Sudan United Front (SSUF) led by former army chief Gen. Paul Malong said it wants face-to-face negotiations with the government.

"We ask for direct negotiations... We want IGAD to facilitate peace negotiations between us and the government,” said a senior SSUF official, who was not authorized to speak to the media.

He told Radio Tamazuj this evening after their meetings with IGAD officials in Nairobi that their rebel group supports the revitalised peace deal but demands direct peace talks with the Kiir administration.

“We are not against the current peace agreement but we want the regional bloc to facilitate face-to-face talks in Nairobi,” he said, while stressing that the talks should focus on addressing the root cause of the conflict.

The rebel official further said they object to the current government’s autocratic ways, saying the president should have limited powers.

“We want to negotiate on the constitution and the current states of South Sudan. We actually have many issues that need to be discussed with the government,” he said.

He hailed the revitalised peace accord as a step forward but said the situation on the ground attests to its failure as parties struggle to meet deadlines.

“We acknowledge the peace agreement but nothing has been achieved so far. The agreement is far behind schedule, so the agreement is failing,” he said.

“We have asked the IGAD special envoy Ismail Wais to convey our message to the government,” he added.

African regional bloc IGAD has recently ruled out a renegotiation of the September 2018 peace agreement signed by President Salva Kiir and several opposition leaders, including main opposition leader Riek Machar.

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 reject to join the revitalised peace deal.