The Community of Sant’ Egidio in Rome, Italy, has been working tirelessly over the past few weeks in a bid to hold the peace talks as scheduled. Encouraged by the progress achieved so far following the two earlier meetings a couple of months ago, it had set the 9th to the 13th of March as the dates for the second rounds of peace talks.
On 14/02/2020, the government of South Sudan signed a Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) with the South Sudan Opposition Movements’ Alliance (SSOMA) under the auspices of the Community of Sant’ Egidio in Rome. It was a landmark event as for the first time since the signing of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) on 12/09/2018, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, did the government ever engage the non-signatories to the agreement.
However, the growing number of cases infected with COVID-19 in Italy has cast doubts about holding the peace negotiations as scheduled. The last straw appears to be the closing of universities and schools in Rome announced by the Italian authorities a couple of days ago. Our sources have confirmed that the Community of Sant’ Egidio has sent letters to the parties stating the postponement of the peace talks due to concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19 and the travel restrictions that could affect some delegates. The new date for the meetings to convene would be around the third week of March 2020. Furthermore, our sources confirmed that the Community of Sant’ Egidio has indicated in its letter to the parties that Paris and Berlin are the options for relocating the peace talks.