Why Rome Peace talk might become political tourism?

Following the Pope’s Visit to South Sudan for peace pilgrimage on 3rd-5th February 2023, South Sudanese and the global world once again fixed their eyes on the Rome peace talks with the holdout group for the second time.

Days before Pope Francis arrived Juba, the government of South Sudan announced the lifting of the suspension on Rome peace talk months after President Kiir suspended talks accusing the group of “buying time and preparing for war” through the process.

In his welcoming speech on 3rd February, President Kiir assured Pope Francis and the country of his commitment to return to the table with the non-signatory group.

The after the excitement and celebrations that His Holiness Pope Francis brought to the South Sudanese and the promises and commitment made by the South Sudan government to implement the agreement and bring the lasting peace to the country, much is expected from the government with all eyes set on Rome peace Initiative.

However, a civil Society activist Edmund Yakani, the Executive Director of the Community Empowerment for Progress (CEPO) said the imitative might become a political tourism if the negotiating parties don’t show the genuine will to stop the suffering of the citizens.

‘Until they agree that enough is enough, let’s give chance to the Rome peace talk, otherwise if they still continue to have a high level of lack of confidence among themselves, then this Rome peace talks will be political tourism,’ said Edmond Yakani.

The Rome peace talks was initiated in January 12th, 2020 with the signing of the ceasefire Agreement between the government and opposition groups under the auspices of the Community of Sant’Egidio and regional organizations but since then, the parties in the dialogue have been finding difficulties to reach the consensus on what is best for the country until it was suspended by the government in November, 2022.

‘The chances of attaining the Rome peace talk process need a level of political commitment and demonstration of political maturity behind the parties sitting on the Rome peace talk negotiations especially from the Government and the hold out groups’ Yakani added.

Yakani noted with concern that this Rome peace process has been the longest peace process compared to the Revitalized Peace Agreement among the South Sudanese and the conflicting parties.

He says the peace talk shall be determined and achieved by the willingness of the Government and the hold out groups to end the suffering in the country and allow peace and reconciliation to prevail in the country.

He appeals to the Community of Sant’Egidio to expand the representation of other stakeholders in the Rome peace process.