September 6, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The negotiating delegation of the Sudanese government for talks with the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa informed AU mediators on Thursday of new conditions it wants to be met before sitting directly with SPLM-N representatives whose failure to show up is already fueling speculation that the talks will collapse.
- Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) north’s secretary general Yasir Arman speaks during a joint news conference with Malik Agar, head of the northern branch of SPLM, in Khartoum, July 3, 2011, ab
Kamal Obaid, head of the government delegation, told reporters in Addis Ababa that they told the mediation team that they refuse to sit with a side “still seeking to widen the scale of war”.
“We will also not sit with a side who is still unable to sever political and military ties with South Sudan” Obaid added in reference to Khartoum’s accusation that the SPLM-N is being supported by South Sudan with which it fought against Khartoum before secession.
The SPLM-N’s secretary-general Yasir Arman told Sudan Tribune that the mediation team informed them that the talks are due to start on Tuesday but that his group was still gathering its negotiators who, according to him, are scattered in different areas. Arman added that their delegation would arrive in Addis Ababa anytime.
He also revealed that the SPLM-N intends to provide AU mediators with a list of its members detained by Khartoum in order to secure their release and join the negotiating team.
For his part, Obaid described their meeting with AU mediators as fruitful, saying it enabled the government delegation to explain its views on the situation in Blue Nile and South Kordofan in a strong and clear manner. He added that the mediators listened attentively to their views and promised to review the proposals put forward by the government in previous rounds.
Sudan and SPLM-N signed an agreement on 4 August to allow humanitarian assistance in South Kordofan and Blue Nile but the rebels later accused the government of obstructing implementation of the deal and called for aid to be delivered through South Sudan and Ethiopia.
It is unclear how each side intends to approach political talks but Yasir Arman said on Tuesday that his group would only accept negotiations on the basis of the 28 June 2011 agreement which recognized the SPLM-N as a legal political force.
The 28 June 2011 deal, which was signed in Addis Ababa between SPLM-N chairman Malik Aggar and Sudan’s presidential assistant Nafie Ali Nafie before President AL-Bashir scrapped it, also lays the ground for new security arrangements to address the situation of SPLM-N combatants in Blue Nile and South Kordofan.