February 18, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The chair of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), Thabo Mbeki, has announced that talks between Sudan’s government and rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) which sought to end the two-and-half-year conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile have been suspended for ten days.
- The head of the Sudanese government’s negotiating team, Ibrahim Gandour (R), speaks at the opening session of peace talks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on 13 February 2014. The SPLM’s Yasir Arman appears at the extreme left of the table, while the mediators and UN envoy are pictured in the middle (Photo: AUHIP)
Mbeki said at a press conference on Tuesday the ten-day hiatus is meant to give delegates time to consult on proposals put forth by the AUHIP with their respective leaders.
"We have made these proposals to the parties with the suggestion that we should adjourn this present session of negotiations to give a possibility to the parties to consult with their principles about these proposals", he said.
But the former South African president did not provide details regarding the proposals.
Sources close to the talks told Sudan Tribune that the AUHIP proposals are based on the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution 2046 (2012) regarding the security, political, and humanitarian issues in the two areas.
The same sources pointed that negotiations stalled because the government delegation insisted that the objective of talks is to settle the conflict in the two areas while the SPLM-N delegation called for a holistic approach to solve Sudan’s problems.
The two delegations accused each other of impeding this round of negotiations.
While the government delegation held the SPLM-N delegation responsible for hindering talks, the SPLM-N said that the former sought partial solutions for the crisis.
Meanwhile, Sudan’s defence minister, Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein, vowed a decisive military victory against rebellion, accusing the SPLM-N of obstructing peace talks.
The SPLM-N delegation protested to the AUHIP against Hussein’s statements and expressed resentment over Khartoum’s rhetorical and military escalation coinciding with negotiations.
Hussein, who addressed a crowd of the paramilitary Popular Defence Forces (PDF) in Khartoum on Tuesday, asserted the armed forces keenness on resolving issues through dialogue, however he emphasized readiness to end the conflict through the "gun".
"We are keenest to resolve issues through dialogue and only dialogue but if war is imposed upon us we would fight. We are ready to finish the summer campaign to end the rebellion", he further said.
The government delegation issued a statement on Tuesday saying the SPLM-N delegation "showed no concern for feelings, hopes and aspirations" of the people of South Kordofan, Blue Nile and the entire country.
The statement alleged that rebels proved intransigent and also dishonoured what was agreed upon, and accused them of using negotiations as means to serve agendas unrelated to the two areas and their people.
Reaffirming its commitment to UNSC resolution 2046 and AU relevant decisions, the government delegation said any future discussions should focus on the two areas only to discuss political, security and humanitarian themes.
The head of the SPLM-N delegation, Yasir Arman, said in press statements on Tuesday the government delegation came to "the wrong place and address", accusing the latter of refusing to allow access to the two areas for delivery of humanitarian assistance.
He said that the government seeks partial solution while the SPLM-N aims to achieve comprehensive solution and to organize a constitutional conference.
The Blue Nile and South Kordofan’s conflict erupted months apart from each other in 2011 when Sudan attempted to forcibly disarm SPLM-N fighters it accuses of being backed by their brother-in-arms in the South Sudanese army.