January 23, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese government and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement - North (SPLM-N) delegations Saturday concluded their second informal meeting with no sign of progress toward an agreement ending the four year’s conflict in the Two Areas.
- SPLM-N and government officials in an informal meeting held in Berlin on January 23, 2016.From the Left, SPLM-N chief negotiator Yasir Arman and Ibrahim Abdallah, while from the right the government top negotiator Mahmoud Ibrahim Hamid and Gen. Emad Adawi. (Courtesy photo released by the SPLM-N)
Instead, the two warring sides exchanged bitter accusations. Khartoum said the rebels have drawn back from previous understandings while the SPLM-N accused the government of refusing to make the needed concession for the sake of peace.
When the two delegations began the second informal discussions in Berlin on Friday, there were great expectations that they would end the meeting with a positive note, opening the door for the signing of two deals at least on the cessation of hostilities and the humanitarian assistance in order to pave the way for a pre-dialogue meeting.
However on Saturday, the head of the government delegation Presidential Assistant Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid issued a statement saying the SPLM-N delegation pulled back from previous commitments to join the national dialogue conference in Khartoum.
Hamid further said the SPLM-N relinquished the principle of the unity of the national army, which was the base of an agreement reached during the first informal meeting in Addis Ababa last December.
"The Government of Sudan regrets this position, which represents a setback from the previous understandings that established principles to achieve a comprehensive peace. Also, it frustrates the aspirations of the citizens of the two area and the whole people of Sudan. "
Following a meeting of its leadership from 14 to 17 January, the SPLM-N released a long statement on Wednesday 20 January, dealing among other with informal discussions in Germany.
The SPLM-N stressed its commitment to a comprehensive solution and the self-rule for Blue Nile and South Kordofan states. Further, it pointed to the need to reach a new agreement on security arrangements to ensure the formation of one army after the implementation of the peace agreement.
The statement welcomed the call of President Omer al-Bashir for a national dialogue but reiterated its rejection to join the ongoing conference held in Khartoum.
The SPLM-N and the holdout opposition forces call to implement a number of confidence building measures aimed to create a conducive environment before they take part in the internal political process.
In a short statement released on Saturday, the SPLM-N spokesperson Mubarak Ardol fired back at the senior Sudanese official, saying he refused all the propositions of his group to end the humanitarian crisis, hold an equal national dialogue, a simultaneous cessation of hostilities in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states and Darfur region, and to reach new political and security arrangements for the Two Areas.
Ardol said he would issue a detailed statement about what happened during the second round of informal talks and stressed the SPLM-N commitment to "key issues for the Sudanese people related to peace, food, freedoms, and citizenship, without discrimination."
Arman and Hamid briefed the African Union representative and the head of East Africa department at the German foreign ministry about the outcome of the meeting.
Ardol said the second round is the last in the informal talks.
On a related development, the head of Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) Commissioner Ahmed Mohamed Adam accused the SPLM-N of confusing the political and humanitarian actions.
In a press conference held in Khartoum Saturday, Adam further urged the SPLM-N to abandon its demand to transport humanitarian aid to the needy in the rebel controlled areas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile through South Sudan and Ethiopia.
He stressed the government will reject any relief comes from outside Sudan, and reaffirmed Sudan’s commitment deliver aid to the civilian in all the areas controlled by the SPLM-N.
Since several years, the two warring parties accepted that UN agencies deliver humanitarian assistance to civilians in the war-affected areas. But Khartoum insists that the operation should be controlled by HAC and the rebel refuse saying this agency is infiltrated by Sudanese security agents.