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South Sudan holdout groups decline meeting IGAD envoy before formal invitation

Sudan's Foreign Minister who is also the chief mediator El-Dirdeiry Mohamed Ahmed and IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan Ismail Wais (L) launch the final phase of the revitalization process in Khartoum on 13 August 2018 (Photo Nuur Mahmoud Sheekh)
February 27, 2019 (JUBA) - The South Sudan National Democratic Alliance (SSNDA) has declined to meet the IGAD special envoy for South Sudan asking him to address an invitation in due form before.

Ismail Wais met with the SSNDA leader Thomas Cirilo on 25 February to discuss the recurrent clashes between his group the National Salvation Front (NAS) and the South Sudanese government army (SSPDF) in Yei River State.

The meeting also discussed ways to bring the holdout groups of the opposition alliance to join the revitalized peace agreement as the transitional period will begin within two months. Also, it was agreed that such a meeting should include the all the SSNDA factions.

On Wednesday, NAS Spokesperson Suba Sammuel Manase disclosed that the Wais verbally requested to meet the SSNDA leadership.

"While the leadership of SSNDA is willing to engage with the Office of IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan; we urge that such a meeting should be formal with prior notice given in advance to enable the leadership of SSNDA to have time to prepare," Manase added.

"Regrettably, due to lack of formal and timely notification by IGAD of its intention to meet the leadership of SSNDA, the proposed meeting did not take place as scheduled," he stressed.

The non-signatory groups are dismayed by a decision taken by the IGAD Council of Ministers on 16 November 2018 directing the special envoy for South Sudan to join the implementation of the revitalized otherwise "they shall be labelled spoilers of the peace process".

The holdout groups reject to sign the peace pact and call to open it for further talks as they maintain their demand for large autonomy for the regions with the appropriate resources.

Also, they blame the IGAD for asking their leader to cease hostilities while, as they claim, all the attacks are carried out by the government forces, pointing that NAS fighters observe the cessation of hostilities of 21 December 2017.

SSNDA’s position recalls that of the SPLM-IO during the wartime as it had accused the regional body of siding the government.

At the time they asked to not allow South Sudanese foreign minister taking part in the meeting on South Sudan saying Juba cannot be part of the conflict and participate in the decisions of the mediation.