February 22, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The United States special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth has said his country encouraged the government and rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) negotiators to reach an agreement during the recent round of talks in Addis Ababa.
- US special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth (US embassy photo)
Booth noted that he held separate meetings with both delegations to urge them to arrive at a peace deal.
According to Saturday’s issue of the pro-government al-Rayaam daily newspaper, Booth warned that war is the only alternative for negotiations, which he said is harmful for all parties.
He stressed that he sensed strong political will from both sides to achieve peace and pointed to the need for holding negotiations on humanitarian, political and security issues simultaneously, saying this would save time and shorten duration of suffering for the people in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
The US official further expressed satisfaction with the resumption of negotiations within 10 days but refrained from commenting on the proposal which the chair of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), Thabo Mbeki, has handed over to the warring parties.
“I do not want to prejudge positions of the concerned parties”, he said
Last Tuesday, Mbeki announced that talks between Sudan’s government and SPLM-N which sought to end the two-and-half-year conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile have been suspended for ten days.
He said 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.
The AUHIP proposal calls for unconditional cessation of hostilities that must be activated within 7 days from the date of signing the peace deal.
It also demands both parties not to move or boost troops or occupy new positions besides stopping all violent acts against civilians, aid workers and their properties.
The proposal further asks conflicting parties to control armed militias as well as controlling their troops in areas under their control, demanding resolving conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile through negotiations on the basis of the frame work agreement signed on June 28, 2011.
The June agreement provides for an inclusive constitutional process to address the historical question, how Sudan is going to be governed, with the participation of all stakeholders, political parties and civil society organizations in a national constitutional conference.
The AUHIP proposal also calls upon both parties to work with all Sudanese stakeholders towards engaging in a comprehensive national dialogue to achieve the democratic transformation and the constitutional reform, proposing formation of joint political, security, and humanitarian committees to continue dialogue among all Sudanese forces.
It underscored the right of the SPLM-N to be registered and carry out its activities as a political party according to the law.
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.