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Malong meets IGAD envoy, says ready to negotiate peaceful settlement for S. Sudan’s conflict

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Former SPLA chief of staff Paul Malong Awan (ST Photo)

December 19, 2018 (JUBA) - The former South Sudan army chief of staff turned rebel leader Paul Malong agreed to observe the ceasefire agreement and to said willing to seek a peaceful settlement for the armed conflict in South Sudan.

Malong sought in the past to join the IGAD mediated peace process but the mediators declined his request pointing he was under international sanctions however sources said that Juba was behind his exclusion from the process.

However, the IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan Ismail Wais held a meeting with the rebel South Sudan United Front/Army (SSUF) in Nairobi on Tuesday to explore ways to include the non-signatories groups in the revitalized peace agreement.

The statement underscored that the meeting took place in line with the IGAD Council of Ministers Resolution of 16th November 2018 directing the Special Envoy to engage the non-signatory parties to the R-ARCSS.

The SSUF leader stated he "recognize the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities, Protection of Civilians and Humanitarian Access in the Republic of South Sudan signed on the 21st of December 2017" and the Permanent Ceasefire on Cessation of Hostilities, Protection of Civilians and Humanitarian Access.

Also, the SSUF group declared their commitment to pursue a non-violent resolution to the conflict in South Sudan and calls upon all parties to adopt the non-violent approach resolution to the conflict.

The SSUF "calls upon the parties to R-ARCSS to make modalities to allow the non-parties thereof especially the SSUF/A, to participate in and actively engage in the peace process in South Sudan." stressed the statement.

Last July, the former army chief of staff accused the President Kiir of obstructing a lasting peace process saying that the IGAD ignored their demand despite being "a viable entity with huge membership, bath in her armed and civil wings".

In September 2017, he was blacklisted by the US administration. Also, in 13 July 2018, the Security Council imposed targeted sanctions several government members or former officials including Malong.

But he denied committing atrocities against the Nuer ethnic group in South Sudan. He claimed he implemented orders by President Kiir who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the South Sudanese army.

In a separate statement to his supporters, Malong said the meeting with Wasi paved the way for further engagement on matters of peace.

"We have no objection to peaceful settlement of the conflict and giving peace a chance. It is for this reason that we commit to stand in solidarity with the people of South Sudan in our endeavour to attain this vital goal that is peace and stability," he said.

The statement did not provide any details on how the SSUF will join the peace agreement or if the rebel group would hold negotiations to the government.

(ST)