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SPLM-N’s Arman pessimistic over peace talks with government

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May 13, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The secretary-general of the rebel SPLM-N and head of its negotiating delegation Yasir Arman said the two warring parties in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states are far from reaching a peace agreement.

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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)

Sudanese government and SPLM-N negotiating delegations last April failed to reach a framework agreement before to start talks to end the three-year conflict in the two southern Sudan states.

The two parties are expected to resume discussions before the end of May.

Arman in statements he extended to Sudan Tribune on Tuesday disclosed that the Sudanese government delegation" accepted once again to negotiate under the 28 June 2011 agreement”, adding that the positions of the two parties are still far apart on the humanitarian assistance and the democratic transition process called national dialogue.

“I can confirm now that we will not agree to negotiate a bilateral agreement (on the Two Areas) because we seek an agreement that opens the door for a comprehensive solution to the complex Sudanese crisis with the participation of the all national partners,” he said.

Sudanese presidential assistant and top negotiator Ibrahim Ghandour said Sunday that they would not accept the SPLM-N’s demand to include Darfur rebel groups in the process brokered by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP).

He further refused the rebel demand for a humanitarian cessation of hostilities, saying they want permanent ceasefire agreement.

The Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union on 9 May, called on Darfur rebel groups to engage in talks with the Sudanese government on the basis of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), rejecting their demand for a comprehensive solution.

The Sudanese rebel groups, gathered under the umbrella of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) failed to convince the African Union to back their demand for holistic talks. The PSC believes that they have to sign separate agreements on Darfur and the Two Areas before to participate in a national constitutional conference.

However, Arman said the SRF roadmap for a ‘national constitutional dialogue’ is not similar to the ‘national dialogue’ proposed by the government of the National Congress Party (NCP).

In a peace plan released in April 2014, the rebels say the government should agree with them on a comprehensive cessation of hostilities in Darfur and the Two Areas and open humanitarian access to civilians in the areas they control.

They further propose that the government meets them – in a process held outside Sudan and brokered by the AUHIP, Darfur mediator and UN envoy – to discuss a permanent ceasefire and negotiate issues related to their regions before to include the national opposition forces for an agreement on the mechanisms and arrangements of national dialogue inside the country.

The rebels say they fear that the NCP seeks to include small parties to keep the balance of power in his favour. They also refuse that president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir chairs the coordination body of the national dialogue.

Arman also minimised the support of traditional opposition forces to the national dialogue process launched last January, and refused to describe the current political situation in the country as a confrontation between the right and left forces.

The current division “is between those who want real change and those who are satisfied with artificial reforms,” he said. “There are leading members within the traditional parties who stand firm in their opposition to the regime, also there are some Islamists who want change and realise that the current regime has no horizon,” he added.

(ST)

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