Blamed for Tigray conflict, Eritrea now purports to bring peace in South Sudan

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki arrives at the Aden Abdulle International Airport in Mogadishu, Somalia December 13, 2018. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

Eritrea, a country blamed for the current conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, is set to play a major good in convincing holdout groups to participate in the ongoing peace-building process in South Sudan, an official has said, a move which could trigger uproar.

Deng Dau Malek, South Sudan's Deputy Foreign Affairs minister said he held talks with Sudan's Chairman of the Sovereign Council Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan to discuss Sudan's role in convincing rebel groups to join peace processes.

“We met and held fruitful meetings with different heads of state and government to discuss with them our plans for peace and stability in the region, Africa, Horn of Africa, eastern, central, and northern African subcontinent. Before he could return to Sudan, we held fruitful discussions with Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan,” said Malek.

He added: “We discussed the progress in the revitalized roadmap of the revitalized peace agreement on the resolution of conflict in the Republic of South Sudan. We also discussed the role of Sudan in talking to the holdout groups to join the peace process”.

Like many countries in the Horn of Africa region, South Sudan has struggled to contain menu rebel groups and there have been deliberate efforts to bring a number of these teams to the negotiation table. Neighboring countries have played a key role in mediating the talks.

The talks between the government and the holdout opposition groups started in 2019. In January 2020, both sides signed a peace declaration in which they recommitted to the cessation of hostilities and called for uninterrupted humanitarian access to local and international organizations, Sudan Tribune reports.

For some time now, members of the international community have been pushing for the inclusion of the South Sudan Opposition Alliance [SSOMA] in the peace agreement.

South Sudan’s former army chief of staff, General Paul Malong Awan and the former ruling party ]SPLM] Secretary General, Pagan Amum Okiech lead factions in SSOMA. The alliance consists of the Real Sudan People’s Liberation Movement [R-SPLM] and South Sudan United Front/Army [SSUF/A], which were not part of the 2018 peace deal.

According to the minister, President Salva Kiir is confident that Sudan and Eritrea can convince the groups to join peace deals for the sake of stability. President Isaias Afwerki is a close friend of South Sudan's Kiir.

“The Vice President, H.E Hussein Abdel Bagi Akol, and the team consisting of a number of ministers met and held talks with the delegation from Eritrea. We discussed with them the need to coordinate efforts aimed at promoting peace and stability in Africa, and in the Horn of Africa in particular. We have agreed with them to join the efforts of the region and the friends of the people and the government of South Sudan to persuade the holdout groups to join the peace process in the country,” stressed Malek.

He added, “Sudan is leading these efforts but will appreciate the support from countries like Eritrea”.

Despite the trust bestowed on Eritrea, the country has been on the receiving end for supporting Ethiopian National Defense Forces [ENDF] in the ongoing operation in the Tigray region which has been criticized by members of the international community. Eritrea is accused of mass murder in the region.


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