August 15, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese government and rebels have failed to reach a cessation of hostilities agreement in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile as the African mediation team decided to indefinitely suspend the current round of talks.
Direct talks between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-N) pertaining to humanitarian and security arrangement in South Kordofan and Blue Nile has been ongoing since last Tuesday in Addis Ababa.
Also, on Wednesday the government and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) led by Minni Minnawi kicked off direct negotiations on the Darfur track.
On Sunday, the head of the African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP), Thabo Mbeki told the negotiating parties that this round of talks was suspended indefinitely amid an exchange of accusations between the government and the rebels.
In a press conference on Sunday night, head of the government delegation for the Two Areas track, Presidential aide Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid held the SPLM-N responsible for the collapse of talks, saying the rebel group seeks to prolong the war by demanding to transport humanitarian aid from South Sudan.
“SPLM-N doesn’t seek to stop the war and bring peace but it sought to hamper the Roadmap” he said
“SPLM-N wants to kill the Roadmap and planned to abort it as it [was forced] to sign it under pressure from the international community” he added
On the other hand, SPLM-N Chief negotiator Yassir Arman said the Sudanese government has missed the greatest opportunity to achieve peace, holding it responsible for the collapse of this round of talks.
In a press conference at the negotiation venue in Addis Ababa on Sunday, he said the government didn’t make any concessions despite the huge efforts exerted by the Chief mediator Mbeki.
“This round of talks has failed and Mbeki, for the first time, told us that talks have been delayed indefinitely” he said
Arman pointed that during the past four years the government continued to say that it would only allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid from inside Sudan while the SPLM-N calls for mixed tracks
“SPLM-N delegation conceded and accepted mixed tracks from inside Sudan and abroad, we accepted that 80% of the relief comes through Khartoum and 20% from outside. We also gave another concession by determining [the type of assistance] needed from inside and abroad” he said
Since several years ago the SPLM-N demands the transportation of humanitarian aid from outside the country, saying such procedure would prevent Khartoum from using humanitarian aid as a tool of political pressure. Also, it also refused the participation of Sudanese government relief workers saying they are infiltrated by the security apparatus.
Meanwhile, talks on the Darfur track have also reached a dead end following four days of marathon meetings.
Leader of the SLM-MM Minni Minnawi said the member of the AUHIP Abdel-Salam Abu Bakr told the negotiating teams on Sunday night that this round of talks has been suspended to a later time.
He told reporters following the final session of talks that they were hoping to reach a peace agreement after they gave a number of concessions.
“Among more than 20 items [under discussion] we only asked the government to make concessions on 3 items but unfortunately this evening we received a [conciliatory] paper from the mediation and we found it expressing the government position .. We didn’t find even a single letter showing government concession” he said
Minnawi added they informed the mediation of the missing items in its paper, saying however the government delegation refused to make any concessions.
“Unfortunately, it [the government] came to this forum to ship us to Khartoum” he said
For his part, leader of the JEM Gibril Ibrahim attributed the failure of this round of talks to the attempt by the mediation to impose the Doha peace document on them.
He pointed that the mediation told them that it finds it too hard to continue this round of talks and was forced to suspend it until a later time.
On the other hand, head of government delegation for Darfur track, Amin Hassan Omer pointed to the SLM-MM and the JEM lack of seriousness to achieve peace, saying they brought up 15 contentious points instead of the already known 5 points.
In press statement on Sunday night, Omer declined to describe the end of talks as “collapse”, saying the talks have been extended to its fullest possible time.
On Saturday, the government delegation demanded an alleged 13 rebel locations that could be defined by coordinates are disclosed, saying signing cessation of hostilities agreement will be impossible unless rebels disclose their locations.
However the Darfur rebels have entirely rejected the governments’ demand.
The Sudanese army has been fighting SPLM-N rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states since 2011 and the armed movements in Darfur since 2003.