September 3, 2012 (KHARTOUM) — The head of the Sudanese government’s negotiating team with the Sudan people’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N) said the rebel group lacks willingness to reach a peace deal to end the one-year conflict in Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
- SPLA-N fighters stand in front of a grenade launcher captured from Sudan’s Armed Forces (SAF) near Gos village in the rebel-held territory of the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, May 1, 2012. (Reuters)
Kamal Obeid left yesterday Khartoum to Addis Ababa where the negotiating teams from the parties involved in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) issues are to meet on Tuesday 4 September. The agenda of the talks with the Sudanese rebels are defined in a framework agreement signed in June 28, 2012, in line with UN resolution 2046.
Before departing, Sudan’s top negotiator with the SPLM-N had a busy day where he made some press statements and met with a women delegation from South Kordofan. Since his return on the third of August, Obeid was keen to meet representatives of the Two Areas, to listen to their concerns.
Speaking to a semi-government news service on Monday Obeid said that they agreed with the mediation to discuss issues related to the Blue Nile and South Kordofan included in the CPA, adding "we are waiting to see what the other party will propose in his position paper in order to reach an agreement to settle the crisis."
Reacting to the outcome of a recent rebel meeting held last week, the Sudanese official said the SPLM-N lacks a strong commitment to achieve peace. He further rejected its call to topple the regime "through the Sudanese Revolutionary Front and military actions ".
Last year the SPLM-N formed the SRF alliance with the three main Darfur rebel groups.
Obeid expressed hope that the implementation of security arrangements signed with the South Sudan would help to create a conducive environment to negotiate a deal with the rebel group.
SPLM-N Secretary General and top negotiator Yasir Arman urged the international community in a statement released on 28 August to deliver humanitarian relief to the needy in the rebel areas directly through South Sudan and Ethiopia.
Following a meeting of the SPLM-N leadership, Arman also reiterated the SPLM-N’s commitment to work with the other rebel groups and opposition parties to overthrow the regime. The slogan of the rebel meeting was "Unity of the Opposition and the Overthrow of the Regime."
The rebel group also decided to ask the mediation to bring some of its members who are recently released or still in jail to the venue of the talks as it had decided include them to its negotiating team. It also said the SPLM-N wants to consult opposition leaders and friends.
In his speech before the women’s delegation, Obeid said that his delegation is keen to separate the humanitarian and political tracks of the talks. He further accused the SPLM-N of betting on the humanitarian assistance to feed its troops.
On the other hand he said his government wants the SPLM-N to disengage from political and military links with South Sudan. The SPLM-N was formed after South Sudan’s independence last year consisting of northern Sudanese members of the former rebels that now rule the Republic of South Sudan after the 2005 peace deal allowed the South secede.
The Sudanese top negotiator said that a ceasefire without clear foundations was a big challenge in all the peace agreements his government signed.
He was referring to the ceasefire agreement included in the humanitarian deal the two Sudanese parties inked during the first week of August to allow aid workers to reach civilians in rebel controlled areas.
Sudanese officials previously said a one-month humanitarian ceasefire might allow the rebels to reinforce their positions and demanded that this issue be reviewed and replaced by some hours or days in line with the distribution of food on the ground.
Obeid also said the SPLM-N during its latest attacks against the Sudanese army wanted to realise military gains and to strengthen its position at the negotiating table. He was alluding to clashes in Al-Mouraib area located northeast of South Kordofan on Friday 24 August.
Kamal Obeid was selected to lead the negotiating team with the SPLM-N rebels because he was one of the few figures in the ruling National Congress Party who sought to build amicable relations with Arman and Agar during the 2005-2011 interim period of the CPA, where officials from the two parties only had contacts official meetings.
NAFIE IN ADDIS ABABA
Nafie Ali Nafie, Sudanese presidential assistant and deputy chairman of the ruling party, is expected to fly Tuesday to the Ethiopian capital where the talks are expected to start.
It was reported that he might meet SPLM-N chairman Malik Agar to revive the commitment of the two parties to the framework agreement they signed on 28 June of last year.
But NCP spokesperson, Badr Al-Din Ahmed Ibrahim, dismissed such rumours saying is traveling to Addis Ababa to extend the party’s condolences to the Ethiopian ruling party over the death of Meles Zenawi.
Nafie who is usually categorised as a an NCP hardliner is reportedly favourable to the framework agreement which he negotiated with the SPLM-N over a year ago. However, when he returned to Khartoum President Omar Al-Bashir scrapped the deal, which is strongly opposed by the military were opposed to the deal as they do not want to enter into any partnership with the SPLM-N unless they are disarmed.
It was the attempt of the Sudan Armed Forces to disarm the SPLM-N last year before the CPA had been fully implemented in the Two-Areas that triggered the conflict, first in South Kordofan just before South Sudan’s independence and later in Blue Nile where Malik Agar was dislodged from his position as Governor.