Government asks for postponement of Rome talks
The minister of presidential affairs, Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, over the weekend wrote to the secretary-general of Sant’Egidio requesting that the scheduled Rome peace talks be postponed to mid-next month.
“I would like to request you to extend the date of the SSOMA Rome Peace Talks with Gen. Paul Malong Awan, leader of SSUF/A, and Gen. Pagan Amum, leader of Real SPLM to be held between 10 and 18 July 2021,” Dr. Marial wrote. “This is because I have been tasked to head organizing a High-Level Committee for the celebration of the tenth Independence Anniversary of the Republic of South Sudan. I have been asked by the president to represent him in the burial of former president of Zambia H.E Kenneth Kaunda.”
He also said that the ministers representing the parties in the R-TGoNU and the government negotiating team are engaged in organizing the celebration events.
“I would like to assure you that we are committed to the Rome Peace Talks under the auspices of Sant’Egidio and that we will be able to attend immediately when these events are over,” he reassured.
Minister Marial extended invitations to two delegates from Sant’Egidio to attend the independence anniversary celebrations in Juba.
When contacted by phone, the secretary-general of the Community of Sant’Egidio, Paolo Impagliazzo, said Dr. Marial had been in contact with Sant’Egidio on the matter.
“He (Dr. Marial) has been tasked with organizing the celebration of the tenth anniversary (independence) and also I think that he was appointed to attend the funeral ceremony of the former president of Zambia,” Dr. Impagliazzo said. “So this is the reason why they asked to postpone it (talks) but it is okay because the political will is still there. There are only technical reasons for the postponement.”
He said he will confirm the next date later because they need to consult with the opposition leaders on their availability for mid-July.
“There is also something to do with Paul Malong. He is a sanctioned person so for him to move and travel is not easy,” Dr. Impagliazzo said. “There are a lot of things which not only belong to Sant’Egidio but also the UN Security Council. For him to travel is a very long procedure.”
He said even though the meeting has been postponed, the government and the opposition have the political will to meet face to face.
“It is only for technical reasons that the meeting is postponed to after the celebration of the tenth anniversary of independence, but we are ready to welcome them and they are ready to come to Rome,” Dr. Impagliazzo said. “We need to discuss with the opposition the proposed dates by the government. We need to agree on the dates and that is all.”