March 14, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese government has agreed to hold direct political talks with the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) but demanded a delay before engaging in discussions, a Sudanese source said.
- A SPLA-N fighter holds up his rifle near Jebel Kwo village in the rebel-held territory of the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, 2 May 2012 (photo by Goran Tomasevic Reuters)
A well-placed source in the National Congress Party (NCP) on Thursday told Sudan Tribune there has been consultations between a leading member of the ruling party, the head of the African Union (AU) mediation team, Thabo Mbeki, and SPLM-N leader Malik Agar over the resumption of talks between the two parties.
He added that these contacts aim to hold direct political talks between the Sudanese government and the SPLM-N following the signing of an agreement to implement the buffer zone and to resume the exportation of South Sudanese oil.
The NCP official said the Sudanese government had demanded a further delay while it appoints a new chief negotiator to replace Kamal Obeid, who chaired its negotiating team during last year’s indirect talks.
When contacted by Sudan Tribune to comment on the statements, SPLM-N’s secretary-general, Yasir Arman, “categorically” dismissed the comments, adding that “there is no need to consult with Malik Agar” because the SPLM-N has already announced its “willingness” to hold direct talks and our negotiating team is ready”.
“These baseless statements aim to confuse the international community because the National Congress [Party] refuses to negotiate with the SPLM-N and rejects the resolutions of the African Union and the United Nations Security Council”, Arman said.
Earlier this week, the SPLM-N accused the Sudanese government of refusing to take part in talks, saying the mediation team had twice cancelled two dates (5 and 10 March) which had been set down for the start of negotiations aimed at resolving the conflict in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states.
Reacting to the accusations, the Sudanese foreign affairs ministry issued a communiqué on Thursday claiming that the SPLM-N is seeking to undermine the recent implementation agreements signed with South Sudan.
The statement warned the international community against the “destructive behaviour” of the SPLM-N to achieve its interests at the expense of political stability in Sudan and the normalisation of relations between the two countries.
In a joint statement released on Wednesday, US secretary of state John Kerry, Norwegian foreign minister Espen Barth Eide and UK foreign secretary William Hague welcomed the signing of the implementation matrix for the Sudan–South Sudan agreements.
The statement called on the parties to begin implementation of all aspects of the nine agreements “immediately and unconditionally, as required by UN Security Council Resolution 2046”.
The three ministers stressed the “urgent need for a cessation of hostilities, humanitarian access to all areas, and the longer-term political solution” for the conflict in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states.
They also welcomed SPLM-N’s willingness to hold direct talks and urged the Sudanese government to agree without pre-conditions.