February 25, 2014 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese government has agreed to accept a draft framework agreement put forward by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), announced Khartoum’s chief negotiator after a meeting between president Omer Al-Bashir and chief mediator Thabo Mbeki on Wednesday.
- Chief African Union mediator and former South African president, Thabo Mbeki speaks with media after his meeting with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in Khartoum on April 6, 2012. (Getty)
On 18 February Mbeki announced a break in the stalled peace talks between the government and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement –North (SPLM-N) and proposed a draft framework agreement aiming to cease hostilities and deliver humanitarian assistance to civilians in the rebel areas. The draft agreement further proposes to limit political talks to the conflict in Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
Following the meeting in which he took part, the Sudanese presidential assistant and head of government negotiating delegation Ibrahim Ghandour told reporters that president Bashir accepted the proposed agreement "without reserve".
Al-Bashir further, according to Ghandour, reiterated the commitment of his government to deliver humanitarian aid to the affected populations in the Two Area, adding they do not want this issue be used as political tool to put pressure on Khartoum.
The president urged the mediator to "speed up the dialogue and not to waste time in secondary issues," Ghandour said. He stressed that a comprehensive peace should be achieved through a comprehensive agreement not bilateral deals.
The two warring parties failed to achieve any progress in their recent round of direct talks from 13 to 18 February because the government says it can only negotiate an agreement over the two state, after what they can be part of a national process but the SPLM-N persists on its demand for a comprehensive process .
Regarding the humanitarian assistance, the two parties diverge on who can supervise the distribution of food in the rebel areas, the SPLM-N refuses any role for the government aid agency. The rebel group also propose to extend the humanitarian deal to include rebel areas in Darfur region.
Ghanour said the government negotiating delegation will hand over a formal letter to the mediation stating its unconditional acceptance of the draft framework agreement.
He added that AUHIP chief discussed relations between Sudan and South Sudan, and the presidential initiative to achieve a holistic peace in the country including the opposition parties.
Mbeki’s panel is tasked with a process to achieve democratic reforms in Sudan.
The South African mediator on Wednesday met also with the leader of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) Sadiq Al-Mahdi to discuss a proposal prepared by the latter suggesting to not include discussions on constitutional reforms in the bilateral talks between the government and SPLM-N.
Al-Mandi proposes to limit talks between the warring parties to issues of security arrangements and humanitarian access .
Speaking to the press following the meeting, the leader of Sudan’s largest opposition party called to discuss issues related to democratic transition in a national council for peace, adding he sent his proposal to Ghandour and SPLM-N top negotiator Yasir Arman alike.
"If the proposal is accepted by the SPLM-N, the government should recognise it (as partner in the national dialogue process proposed by president Bashir) and expand dialogue to issue of peace and democratisation,” Mahdi further said, underlining it is a necessary step before to include any agreements reached via this national platform in the Constitution.
Mbeki also met with the Islamist leader Ghazi Salah al-Deen al-Attabani who split last year from the ruling National Congress Party .
Attabani said opposed to bilateral accords.
"Efforts to achieve national reconciliation should be collective and avoid bilateral agreements. The optimal arrangement is to hold a roundtable dialogue and to observe specific deadlines, so as not to miss the issue of reform," he said.
He further demanded the government to take a number of measures in order to create conducive environment for the press and freedom of expression before next year general elections.
Mbeki is scheduled to meet with the leader of the Popular Congress Party (PCP) Hassan Al-Turbai . He also will fly to Kampala to meet the rebel groups members of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front.