April 26, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The first round of talks since 2011 between the Sudan people Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) and the Sudanese government in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa have adjourned without success in bridging the wide gap between the two sides.
- Girls sit in front of their shelter in Bram village in the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan April 28, 2012. (Reuters)
SPLM-N said in a statement that Khartoum insisted on linking the humanitarian issue to the political one which they strongly rejected.
"[P]utting any political conditions to deny access for humanitarian assistance contradicts international humanitarian law and, moreover, constitutes a war crime" the rebel group said.
"It is a clear politicization of the humanitarian operation which contradicts international humanitarian law and prolongs the suffering of the civilian populations and puts them at the mercy of the final settlement of the conflict. That will enable the National Congress to buy time, continuing its policy of denying access and using food as a weapon for political gain, which again, is a war crime" SPLM-N added.
Negotiating teams from the two sides on Tuesday held separate consultations with the African Union mediation to prepare the agenda of the negotiations for a political solution to the conflict in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states.
After years of stonewalling, the Sudanese government agreed to engage direct talks with the SPLM-N as it finalized talks with the South Sudan over security issues and oil exportation. Khartoum in the past stipulated that Juba had to disengage with the rebels before sitting at the negotiating table with the rebel movement per the demands contained in the African Union and UN Security Council resolutions.
SPLM-N Secretary General and head of negotiating team Yasser Arman said in press statements that "the era for partial solutions is over".
Arman stressed the SPLM-N desire for a comprehensive solution to all of Sudan’s problems that entails having a democratic transformation and warned Khartoum that rejecting such approach will unite its opponents behind toppling the regime.
"We call for new political and security arrangements in the two areas that is linked to a comprehensive constitutional process in the center and the opposition must make up its mind because there is not three but only two options; either the National Congress Party (NCP) accepts the peaceful solution and comprehensive democratic change. In the absence of that the NCP is to be toppled" Arman said.
Last time the two sides met was in June 2011 when they signed an AU brokered framework agreement that was scrapped by president Omer Hassan al-Bashir under the apparent pressure from the army as it calls to establish political partnership with the rebels.
Sudanese officials said they are willing to negotiate a solution for the conflict in the Two Areas in accordance with a protocol related to the Blue Nile and South Kordofan and refused to include any national agenda in the talks.
The SPLM-N formed an alliance with Darfur movements since November 2011 and inked with the opposition parties an agreement on a strategy to bring political change in Sudan in January of this year.