March 12, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) called on the African Union (AU) mediation team to consult with the two parties when it comes to deciding the date of talks and other related arrangements.
- Secretary-general of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, Yasser Arman (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
The angry reaction comes as the mediation recently notified and cancelled two dates it had fixed for direct talks between the rebel movement and Khartoum government aimed at ending the ongoing conflict in the two southern Sudanese states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
According to the SPLM-N’s chief negotiator and its secretary-general, Yasir Arman, the mediation initially scheduled direct talks with the Sudanese government delegation for 5 March, but later moved the meeting to 10 March before informing them that “the talks were not going to take place until further notice”.
“It was an open secret that Khartoum put new conditions and they said openly that they are not ready to negotiate directly with the SPLM-N”, Arman said in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.
Sudanese president Omer Al-Bashir has openly rejected holding direct talks with the SPLM-N to settle the ongoing conflict and reach an agreement over humanitarian access into the rebel-held areas in the Two Areas.
Sudan said talks can be held only once South Sudan disengages with its former allies and when the rebel fighters hand over their arms.
Khartoum last Friday agreed with Juba to implement a security arrangements agreement which provides for a buffer zone on the common border and the deployment of joint patrols to monitor it.
The SPLM-N secretary-general said that Khartoum’s rejection of direct talks “will only result in more suffering of the civilian populations” and called on the AU and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) “to look into how to implement” its resolutions stipulating that the two parties hold direct talks.
He nonetheless said they are “ready for direct negotiations” with the Sudanese government in accordance with the agenda set by the mediation.
He further welcomed the 8 March agreement on the modalities of implementing security arrangements and reiterated the SPLM-N’s readiness to sign an “immediate humanitarian cessation of hostilities”.
The SPLM-N rebels say they control more than 40% of the Sudan-South Sudan border and announced their willingness to cooperate with the monitoring teams “for the demilitarized buffer zone to achieve its goals”.
Sudanese defence minister Abdel-Rahim Hussein stated that the issue of rebel groups in both countries will be discussed on 17 March in a meeting where the two parties are expected also to tackle the implementation of other deals, particularly those on border trade and crossing points.