February 15 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) will hold talks with the Sudanese government in Addis Ababa on 5 March, announced Yasir Arman, the secretary-general of the group on Friday.
- SPLM-N secretary-general Yasir Arman (Reuters)
In a written statement emailed to Sudan Tribune, Arman said the SPLM-N chairman, Malik Agar, had confirmed in a message to the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) that a 10-member delegation, led by the movement’s secretary-general, will take part in the talks.
Last year, the Sudanese government and SPLM-N delegation signed an agreement on humanitarian assistance after indirect talks brokered by the AU mediation team. However, both sides later failed to implement the deal over disagreements on how to distribute humanitarian assistance to affected civilians in the rebel-held areas.
The Sudanese government demanded that Juba should first cuts its links with the Sudanese rebel group before engaging in negotiations, while the SPLM-N wants a comprehensive and inclusive process dealing with the Two Areas and Darfur crises.
“The SPLM-N delegation will go with a clear vision, including all the national and international commitments of the movement, Arman said, stressing that the humanitarian crisis in the SPLM-N-controlled areas should be at the top of the agenda at the talks.
He went on to say that any political solution must be comprehensive, aimed primarily at developing a national agenda with the participation of all political forces and civil society groups in order to get an answer about “how to govern Sudan before who governs Sudan”.
In a meeting held on 25 January, the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) demanded the AUHIP invite both parties to hold direct political talks before 15 February, with the aim to end ongoing conflict in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states.
On the humanitarian side, the council demanded the mediation propose a cessation of hostilities agreement in order to facilitate humanitarian access. The AUPSC considers that the agreement, sealed last August with the tripartite mechanism, should now be enforced.
On Friday in Khartoum, Sudanese president Omer Al-Bashir repeated the position of his government regarding talks with the SPLM-N before members of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP). He reiterated that discussions should centre on the implementation of a protocol related to the Two Areas included in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005.
Speaking at the opening session of the NCP Shoura Council, Bashir said there is a need to discuss how to disarm and demobilise “Sudanese youth carrying weapons” in the two states and to transform them to “good citizens”, he added .
Regarding the “New Dawn” charter which calls to topple the regime and establish a secular and democratic regime in Sudan, Bashir said that the opposition parties can propose it to the Sudanese people and challenge the ruling party in a free election.
He further asserted that Sudanese people prefer to stick to Islamic law, and pledged to defeat rebel groups in the Darfur region.
Rebel groups in Blue Nile, Darfur and South Kordofan, the opposition parties and civil society groups signed the charter last January. The political parties nonetheless said more talks were needed on the deal, saying it is still a draft and not a final version.