Home | News    Thursday 13 November 2014

Sudanese government and SPLM-N resume talks on the Two Areas

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By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

November 12, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – A new round of talks between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) resumed in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Wednesday .

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AUHIP chief Thabo Mbeki (R) speaking at the opening session for peace talks between the Sudanese government and the SPLM-N in Addis Ababa on 12 November 2014 (Photo courtesy AUHIP)

The fresh negotiations being held under the auspices of the African Union High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) focus on resolving conflict in the troubled Blue Nile and South Kordofan states.

Opening the session of talks, head of AUHIP, former South African president Thabo Mbeki, called on the two parties to engage in a positive and constructive talks to end the three year-old fighting.

“We are here to facilitate the peace process. We hope you came here with a full and positive sprit to put national issues first over individual interest,” said Mbeki.

The former South African president stressed on the “urged imperative” to end war and to ensure a humanitarian access to the conflict affected civilians in the Two Areas. He further underlined the recent polio outbreak in neighbouring South Sudanese areas adding that the epidemic could cross into South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Speaking about the purpose of this round of talks, the chief mediator pointed to the national dialogue process and the upcoming talks between the government and Darfur groups saying it is “critical” that all the parties participate in “a process which must define the future of Sudan”.

The government and the SPLM-N failed during the past even to reach a framework agreement because the government refused an inclusive peace process the two parties had in June 2011 but rejected later by Khartoum.

The head of the Sudanese government delegation Ibrahim Ghandour from his side expressed hope to reach an agreement with the SPLM-N “to stop the bloodshed” in Sudan, and pave the way towards achieving sustainable peace and development .

“We have come to finalize the framework agreement in which we made quite substantial strides in April of this year 2014,” he further said.

The presidential assistant spoke about the national dialogue process launched by president Omer al-Bashir in January 2014 and called on the SPLM-N to join this comprehensive national process.

“Because (the national dialogue) is the only way for us to reach a consensus on the constants and solutions for our major problems that have been a subject of a contentious debate since the time before independence and up to this moment”.

Chief negotiator of the SPLM-N, Yasir Arman, to his side said his team is at the talks looking for comprehensive peaceful settlement as inseparable elements to usher Sudan into a new chapter.

“This round of talks will be registered in history of the conflict as one of the important rounds, if not the most important. It would be important not only to the parties, but also for Sudan at large and the Sudan future agenda,” said Arman.

“It may be the last chance to salvage Sudan through a credible national constitutional conference” he said adding “this is the only road to bring a national consensus a true nation building program”

Arman who was flanked by Minni Minnawi of the SLM-MM and el-Tom Hajo of the Democratic Unionist Party also took the opportunity to denounce the alleged mass rape in North Darfur, adding that the end of war and the humanitarian access are "an entry point" to create a conducive environment for the “national constitutional dialogue”.

MINNAWI PARTICIPATION

The chief mediator Mbeki welcomed the presence of the rebel leader Minnawi among the SPLM-N delegation saying that a process for a cessation of hostilities in Darfur will engage soon.

A member of the Sudanese government delegation who requested anonymity told Sudan Tribune that the SPLM-N can include any person in its delegation .

“The this will not change the course of the process as we are here to negotiate on the Blue Nile and South Kordofan,” he added.

In his speech, Arman welcomed Minnawi as the leader of the rebel alliance Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) coordinating council for the peace process (CCPP).

Mbeki said he had met with the head of the negotiating delegations before the opening session and agreed with them on the agenda of the discussions.

The two chief negotiators “know what to do after the adjournment,” he said.

According to the UN, the conflict has claimed the lives of an estimated 300,000 people and affected over one million people in the states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

In Khartoum, the deputy chairman of the Reform Now movement (RNM), Hassan Rizq, urged the government and SPLM-N negotiators to commit themselves to the AUHIP decisions to restrict the current round of talks to the Two Areas.

He told the pro-government Sudan Media Centre (SMC) website that good faith contributes to the convergence of views between the two sides, pointing that Mbeki is making great efforts to bring the two parties together to achieve satisfactory solutions.

Rizq further stressed that the two sides could achieve positive results if they discussed issues with open hearts and minds, saying that ending of war represents the real beginning to resolve the country’s crises.

The Blue Nile and South Kordofan’s conflict erupted months apart from each other in 2011 when Sudan attempted to forcibly disarm SPLM-N fighters it accuses of being backed by their brother-in-arms in the South Sudanese army.

(ST)

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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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