October 21, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement -North (SPLM-N) Friday announced the suspension of negotiations with the Sudanese government over political settlement, and called for an international investigation of the use of chemical weapons in the war affected areas in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
- SPLM-N leader Malik Agar (C) his deputy Abdel Aziz al-Hilu (L) and SG Yasir Arman pose for a picture in undisclosed location in the rebel controlled areas in March 2014 (AFP/Getty Photo)
However, the SPLM-N expressed readiness to continue talks for a cessation of hostilities and humanitarian access agreement with the Sudanese government under the African Union brokered process.
Following a report by Amnesty International accusing the Sudanese government of using chemical weapons in Jebel Marra, SPLM-N Secretary General Yasir Arman said his movement is considering to stop talks with Khartoum and demand the UN Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council to conduct an inquiry on the use of chemical weapons in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
The SPLM-N leadership on Friday said that the report of Amnesty International " uncovered the appalling horrors befalling innocent civilians caught in the grip of a genocidal war". The group further said that a doctor working in the rebel held areas in South Kordofan, Tom Catena, " had testified that he cared for victims who suffered paralysis, blurred vision, vomiting and some with diarrhoea."
Based on these reasons, the rebel group decided to freeze the political process brokered by the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) led by Thabo Mbeki for a political solution to end war and to pave the way for a comprehensive and inclusive constitutional conference.
"The SPLM-N leadership after internal consultations resolved the following: 1. An immediate suspension of political engagement with the Sudan government on all political matters, including national dialogue and peace political track negotiations.
2. The SPLM-N will be ready only to negotiate a humanitarian cession of hostilities that would address the humanitarian crisis and provide civilian protection," says the statement.
The armed groups in the Two Areas and Darfur and the National Umma Party (NUP) signed last August a plan for peace proposed by the African mediation but they failed to strike a deal on the humanitarian truce.
The SPLM-N’s decision on the suspension of the political engagement comes after the failure of an informal meeting with the Sudanese government in Addis Ababa facilitated by the Ugandan government.
Also, it comes as the second term of U.S. President Barak Obama is coming to an end. The American administration has been actively backing the AUHIP in order to settle armed conflicts in Sudan and to consider the lift of sanctions.
Amnesty’s report says that the Sudanese army had carried at least 30 chemical weapons attacks in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur since January 2016. Also it estimates that some 250 people were killed during these assaults.
The SPLM-N leadership urged the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to investigate the use of chemical weapons in three areas of Darfur, Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile; and called on the international community to support "this just demand".
On Wednesday 19 October, Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour denied the allegations, and said his government is not concerned by calls to probe the use of chemical weapons in Darfur.
Ghandour further said that these accusations aim only to sabotage Khartoum’s efforts to improve relations with the international community.