Renewed hope as Kenya-led South Sudan talks start

Friday May 10 2024

African head of states and other officials pose for a picture during the closing session of the ongoing South Sudan peace talks being held in Nairobi, Kenya on May 9, 2024. PHOTO | X via President William Ruto (@WilliamsRuto)


Kenya’s President William Ruto on Thursday launched a high-level mediation initiative for South Sudan dubbed “Tumaini”, [meaning hope in Swahili], at State House, Nairobi to complement the 2018 peace deal, and asked the parties to commit to end political instability in the country.

Chaired by mediator Major-Gen (rtd) Lazarus Sumbeiywo, the talks are between President Salva Kiir’s government and rebel opposition groups that were not part of the 2018 peace agreement that ended a five-year civil war.

“Tumaini, meaning hope, is grounded in the resolve that delivered the Comprehensive Peace Agreement a decade ago. It is fuelled by courage, goodwill, and determination to silence the guns and explore better ways of resolving conflicts,” President Ruto said.

“I encourage the Transitional Government of National Unity, the Real SPLM and the South Sudan United Front to stay the course and redouble their commitment to this mediation.”

Read: South Sudan peace talks set to begin

President Kiir, who is also the chairperson of the East African Community Heads of State Summit, was hopeful that the mediation would yield positive results ahead of the country’s general election later this year.


“We hope that the opposition groups have a similar conviction and desire for peace in South Sudan, which, when fully achieved, will bring everlasting stability and economic development in the region, not just South Sudan,” President Kiir said.

Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera, Zambia’s Hakainde Hichilema, Namibia’s Nangolo Mbumba, and Central African Republic’s Faustin-Archange Touadera also attended the meeting that took place after an African Union (AU) agricultural summit earlier in the day.

AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat was also present.

President Hichilema urged the two parties to be accommodating and engage in genuine negotiations with a spirit of give-and-take.
“In today’s world, no one really wins the war; you may win a battle, but the war continues,” he noted.

Mr Sumbeiywo exuded confidence that the talks would resolve the outstanding issues.

“After this launch, we plan to engage in sustained and continuous mediation to ensure a speedy and comprehensive resolution of the issues,” he said.

Read: Mistrust threatens South Sudan peace talks

Former Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) secretary-general Pagan Amum, who is now the leader of the Real SPLM, is the spokesperson of an alliance of five opposition groups dubbed the Non-Signatories South Sudanese Opposition Group. He said the initiative should go to the root cause of the current problem and resolve the matter once and for all.

“Engaging in a national dialogue and building national consensus and agreeing to a new social contract is what is required,” Mr Amum said.

“But, for us to achieve this I believe and with this initiative, Tumaini, we need to leave this mindset of conflict. We need to stop seeing each other as enemies. We are brothers and sisters.”