March 12, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA/KHARTOUM) - The African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) renewed its confidence in the mediation team led by Thabo Mbeki to broker peace talks between Sudanese government and SPLM-N rebels on the Two Areas and asked him to reach an agreement by the end of April.
- Former South African president Thabo Mbeki now heads the African Union’s mediation team for Sudan’s Two Areas (Photo: Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images)
Last month the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) suspended the stalled talks on the conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states and referred the matter to its mandating authority, the AUPSC, asking for further guidance.
In a statement issued on 2 March, the mediation said that the SPLM-N presented "a fundamentally different proposal" in response to a draft framework agreement it proposed to the two sides on 18 February.
The peace and security body discussed the matter on Monday 10 March and released its decision two days after on Wednesday urging the rebel group to respond to the proposal of the panel, and underlined that Khartoum responded to the draft agreement.
The AUPSC "encourages the SPLM-N to respond in accordance with the request made by the AUHIP" said the decision.
"Council further encourages the two Parties to continue the bilateral consultations they have initiated to reach a better understanding and solution. In this regard, Council requests the AUHIP to continue to assist the Parties to reach an agreement by 30 April 2014," it added.
The SPLM-N proposed a draft framework providing to negotiate a new humanitarian deal and to extend it to the rebel held areas in Darfur.
The rebel group also renewed its demand for an inclusive and comprehensive based on the 18 June framework agreement and demanded that Khartoum immediately lift the ban on its activities and associate it in the preparation of a national conference to discuss the different conflicts in Sudan and constitutional reforms.
In Khartoum, the Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti welcomed the decision of the peace and security body, saying the AUPSC "listened to a clear position from the Sudanese government".
He further said many members of the Council approved the position of the government and accused the other party of hampering the negotiations.
The head of the government negotiating team, Ibrahim Ghandour also reacted positively to the decision and called for the immediate implementation of the tripartite humanitarian agreement after the signing of a ceasefire agreement.
Rebel groups of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) refuse to hold separate peace talks with the Sudanese government and demand to establish one forum to negotiate the armed conflict in Darfur and the Two Areas.
Gibril Ibrahim, of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), Minni Minnawi of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-MM) and El-Tom Hajo, SRF deputy chairman were recently in Addis Ababa where they lobbied the AU officials to endorse their demand for a comprehensive process.
Sudan Tribune failed to reach the different rebel leaders to get their reactions over the AUPSC’s decision.
However, JEM spokesperson Girbril Adam Bilal told Sudan Tribune that his group sticks to its demand for a holistic process and reiterate their commitment to seek a peaceful solution to end war in the country and establish a democratic regime.
"We reiterate our call for the African Union and the international community to consider our demand for a comprehensive peace and the unification of peace forums and mediations, otherwise it will provides Khartoum the opportunity to divide the revolutionary forces and this what we reject categorically", he stressed.