March 2, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA/KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government Saturday rejected a demand by the SPLM-N to hold preliminary meeting over national issues in Addis Ababa, while its negotiating delegation refused to continue direct talks accusing the rebels of derailing the peace process.
- Omer Suleiman (L), Sudanese government deputy chief negotiator, and Yasir Arman (R), SPLM-N top negotiator, head their delegations in the direct peace talks in Addis Ababa on March 2, 2014 (Photo AUHIP)
In its response to a draft framework agreement proposed by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), the SPLM-N proposed to hold a preliminary meeting in Addis Ababa with the participation of all the Sudanese political forces to discuss the preparation of a constitutional conference.
The rebel movement, in line with the 28 June 2011 agreement, also demanded to remove a ban of its political activities in the country and to recognise it as a legal political party and a partner in the national constitutional process.
Presidential assistant and head of Sudanese government negotiating delegation, Ibrahim Ghandour, rejected the new demands of the SPLM-N rebels.
The process is "a Sudanese-Sudanese dialogue and there is a room and place to gather all the Sudanese in Khartoum," Ghandour said. He further accused the SPLM-N of trying to "involve other parties" in this internal dialogue and to serve "an agenda unrelated to the people of Sudan".
The Sudanese official further called on the SPLM-N to accept a cessation of hostilities to implement the tripartite humanitarian agreement, and to reply to the draft agreement proposed by the mediation which limits the current phase of talks to the Two Areas.
Ghandour did not travel to Addis Ababa as he was in a visit to the Yemen related to the relations between the two countries. The deputy chief negotiator, Omer Suleiman, leads the government delegation.
Suleiman, from Addis Ababa criticised the response of the SPLM-N to the draft framework agreement saying the rebel group ignored the proposed cessation of hostilities aiming to enable the humanitarian operation.
The former governor of South Kordofan went to accuse the SPLM-N of lacking seriousness in the talks, adding that the rebels represented the same paper they had previously submitted during the last round of talks.
He further called on the SPLM-N to stick to the draft proposed by the mediation, stressing that his delegation is only mandated to negotiate on the Two Areas.
The text of the SPLM-N response seen by Sudan Tribune includes a large portion dealing with the humanitarian crisis in the Two Areas. The rebel group in its paper actually suggested to negotiate a new humanitarian deal and proposed a set of principles on this respect.
The two parties in the past signed separate deals with the UN agencies, African Union and Arab League to deliver humanitarian assistance to the civilians in the rebel controlled areas.
"Indeed, the SPLM-N signed two bilateral documents on the 18th of February 2012 and the 4th of August 2012, and both of them failed to address the humanitarian crisis," reads the SPLM-N response.
THE REBELS ACCUSE KHARTOUM
The spokesperson of the SPLM-N negotiating team Abdelrahman Ardol, from his side, accused the government delegation of continuing to refuse the 28 June 2011 agreement, the reference point of UN Security Council resolution 2046 (2012) on the talks.
He also said the government rejects a humanitarian operation on the basis of international humanitarian law.
regarding the national constitutional conference, Ardol said the head of the government delegation "admitted they have no any specific ideas to discuss now about the political process".
During the evening session which lasted only for 5 minutes, "the head of the government delegation said that they have no desire to continue the (direct) dialogue with the SPLM North to narrow differences and see that it is necessary to leave the solutions to the AUHIP," Ardol said.
The chief mediator Thabo Mbeki convened the two chief negotiators to a closed-door meeting on Saturday evening.