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Another opposition group splits as South Sudan peace talks resume in Khartoum

August 25, 20187 (KHARTOUM/JUBA) - The South Sudan Patriotic Movement/Army (SSPM) a faction of the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) has been hit by a split on Saturday when its military commander announced the eviction of its leader accusing him of obstructing peace.

This is the second group member of the opposition alliance to suffer a split after the National Salvation Front.

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Costello Garang Ring (ST Photo)

Negotiating delegations which have resumed talks in Khartoum to finalize bracketed issues and the implementation matrix have been surprised with a statement by the SSPA Chief of Staff, General Agany Abdelbagi Akol announcing the removal of SSPM Chairman Costello Garang Ring Lual who is also the Commander in Chief of the armed group.

Abdelbagi Akol made public a statement entitled Mabio Dotbaai Declaration dated on 13 August where he accuses Ring Lual of rejecting the ongoing peace process and "ordering the SSPA forces to fight, kill and displace communities at the border with the Sudan"

Accordingly, the statement said the group’s leadership decided to dismiss him, to appoint Abdelbagi Akol as an interim chairman and restructuring its negotiating team in Khartoum.

This is the second time that a split occurs in one of the SSOA factions.

Earlier this month, a group of National Salvation Front (NAS) officers led by Maj. Gen. Julius Tabuley announced the sack of the group leader Thomas Cirillo Swaka accusing him of rejecting the governance agreement without prior consultation with the group’s leadership.

But he denied their claim and sacked six leading members of his group after accusing them of "subversive activities" to overthrow him.

COSTELLO RIPOSTS & DENIES

In a swift reaction to the statement of General Abdelbagi Akol, Costello Garang denied the accusations of obstructing the peace talks and reaffirmed the " unquestionable and unshaken" unity of the group saying Abdelbagi Akol "has no authority to remove him.

He went further to say that the presence of General Abdelbagi Akol at the venue of the peace talks in Khartoum to lead the group’s negotiating team " indicates our strong commitment to a peaceful solution of the conflict".

"Those using the Peace Forum to divide political entities by using financial means and bribes are not peace lovers. Truth and straightforwardness is the shortest cut to peace. Our commitment to it keep us steadfast," he further said.

Costello Garang Ring Lual is a South Sudanese politician from Aweil in Bahr el-Ghazal, which is part of the present Lol State. He is the son of a leading Dinka traditional leader the late Executive Paramount Chief of Greater Ayat, Ring Lual Dau.

Ring Lual who was among the few Dinka to stand against Garang and back the Nasser faction in 1991, refused to side Riek Machar this time and announced that "Kiir has outlived his usefulness and must leave his office in order to facilitate a peaceful solution to the conflict.

The SSOA has rejected the idea of holding a referendum to settle the difference over the contested 32 states.

TALKS RESUME

On Saturday, the South Sudanese delegations resumed the peace revitalization forum in Khartoum after the Eid al-Adha break.

The number of states was the first issue to be discussed. Also, the talks which resumed in the afternoon tackled the role and functions of the Frist Vice President, the creation of new five ministers, the NCR and preparatory commission for the national constitutional conference.

However, none of the parties spoke about the progress made in the discussion which continued late during the night.

Just, the government spokesperson Michael Makuei confirmed the resumption of the final phase without details.

The mediators plan to conclude the talks on the bracketed issues on the 27 August and to launch discussions on the implementation matrix until the 30 August.

From 31 August to 2 September, talks will be on the Permanent Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements (PCTSA) .

Following the initialling of the PCTSA outcome, the talks would be closed and the IGAD will organize the final signing ceremony.

(ST)