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AU mediation wants only consultations not negotiations: SPLM-N

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August 31, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudan people’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) has dismissed statements by a Sudanese official saying the rebel group had declined an invitation to resume peace talks aimed at ending conflict in the Two Areas.

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SPLM-N secretary-general and chief negotiator speaks at the opening session of peace talks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on 13 February 2014 (Photo: AUHIP)

Sudanese presidential assistant and head of the government negotiating delegation, Ibrahim Ghandour on Saturday said that the SPLM refused the resumption of negotiations.

However, SPLM-N spokesperson Mubarak Ardol decried these claims, stressing that all what they received from the African Union mediation was an invitation for a consultation meeting on the national dialogue.

“We reiterate that the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) did not call to hold a new round of talks between the SPLM-N and the National Congress Party (NCP) but extended an invitation to the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF), as one organisation, and the president of the National Umma Party Mr. Sadiq al-Mahdi to meet them,” Ardol said.

The rebel official further said that Ghandour is displeased by this recognition, and regretted that such attempt to misinform the Sudanese people comes from the chief negotiator.

Rebel delegations are in Addis Ababa for consultation meetings with the African Union officials over the national dialogue and ways to consider their participation in this process.

Sudanese government officials announced their keenness to involve rebel groups in the dialogue process.

They said this participation can come after the signing of a peace agreement in separate talks in Addis and Doha. If the rebel refuse the first option they can directly join the internal process where they can discuss peace and constitutional reforms in the framework of the national dialogue conference.

In a roadmap proposed in April, the rebel SRF demands a cessation of hostility, and talks on a framework for this process outside Sudan. However, the government proposes they come inside the country with international guarantee.

Khartoum see that a permanent ceasefire agreement should be negotiated before peace talks and rejects the idea of a cessation of hostilities, saying it allows rebels to prepare for a new war.

It is not clear if the AUHIP will invite the government and SPLM-N to meet again after the suspension of talks last April.

During a recent visit to the Sudanese capital, AUHIP chief said he and Darfur joint mediator Mohamed Ibn Chambas would consult the Qatari government on a new approach agreed with the government over the inclusion of rebels in the national dialogue.

Sudanese officials emphasised that Mbeki’s role will be restricted to monitoring the inter-Sudanese process.

(ST)

- Sudan says rebels rejected African Union invitation to resume talks on Two Areas

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