August 1, 2019 (JUBA) – The National Salvation Front (NAS) leadership is not aware of any planned arrangement for peace talks with the Juba government in Juba, the rebel group has said.
- Exiled South Sudanese rebel general Thomas Cirillo poses for a photograph inside his hotel room in Addis Ababa, on April 17, 2017 (Reuters photo)
The response from the holdout opposition group came in the wake of recent media reports attributed to the Archbishop of Episcopal Church of South Sudan for Internal Province of Central Equatoria State, Paul Yugusuk while speaking at Emmanuel Cathedral last Sunday.
But, in a statement issued Thursday, NAS’s spokesperson, Suba Samuel Manase denied receiving any official correspondence of interest from Episcopal Church of South Sudan Internal Province of Central Equatoria State or from the Archbishop for any mediation.
He said the Archbishop’s visit in mid-2018 to the NAS camp was granted purely on religious ground, not politics or peace mediation.
“The National Salvation Front (NAS) is a member of South Sudan National Democratic Alliance (SSNDA) which has a clear position on the R-ARCSS [Revitalized Agreement on Resolution of South Sudan Conflict] and the root causes of the conflict in the Republic of South Sudan that requires credible and inclusive peace negotiation, so as to attain a just and sustainable peace in the country,” said Manase.
“This position equally has been shared with the leadership of South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) early this year in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia,” he added.
The official said NAS and SSNDA strongly believe the church has a moral role to play to contribute in bringing peace to the country.
“While NAS welcomes such gesture of mediation from the church and probably from any well-wisher, we urge such efforts be conducted through the right channels,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, the group said areas under its control are open for humanitarian agencies and religious leaders on pastoral visits.
“NAS would like to assure its members and the public at large that the leadership will always utilize its official channels of communication to reach out to its members in matters pertaining to peace negotiation and mediation plans if tall there is any peace negotiation plan at hand,” further noted Manase.
NAS, rebel group led by General Thomas Cirillo, was one of the armed opposition groups that did not signed last year peace deal.
In May, South Sudan’s rival parties agreed on a six-month extension to implement next steps in the fragile peace agreement. The extension came after the main opposition group threatened to boycott formation of a unity government initially planned for May 12.