April 3, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - Commenting on the ongoing internal divisions within the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement -North, a Sudanese government top peace negotiator indicated his preference for the SPLM-N deputy Chairman Abdel Aziz al-Hilu saying negotiations with him would be easier.
- SPLM-N Yasir Arman (L) in a private discussion on the contentious issues with government chief negotiators Amin Hassan Omer (R) and Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid at the venue of the talks in Addis Ababa,on November 22, 2015 (ST Photo)
Last March internal feud surfaced within the SPLM-N after the release of al-Hilu’s resignation letter blaming the Secretary General Yasir Arman of brushing aside his demand of self-determination for the Nuba Mountains. Following what the Nuba Mountains Liberation Council (NMLC) stood against Arman and removed him from his all positions.
in statements to Sudan Tribune, state minister at the Sudanese presidency Amin Hassan Omer said he is optimistic that the peace talks with the SPLM-N would be easier in case they change their negotiating team.
"We are optimistic that negotiations will be easier (with a new negotiating team) because the previous delegation lacked seriousness in the negotiation on determined agenda. Actually, they were seeking political gains unrelated to the Two Areas" Omer said.
The government negotiator was referring to the over 10 rounds of talks brokered by the African Union mediation to end the armed conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states which erupted in June 2011.
He agreed that the SPLM-N internal divisions would delay the upcoming round of talks but reiterated that it would make things easier.
The Sudanese official was referring to a decision by the Nuba political body to stop negotiations. However, SPLM-N leader Malik Agar who is backed by the SPLA-N military command rejected their decisions saying they can only deliberate on issues relation to the South Kordofan State.
Regarding al-Hilu’s demand for self-determination, Omer says that it is an internal issue for the SPLM-N because "they know well that the Sudanese government and the African Union would not accept to include it in the agenda of the peace talks".
The NMLC faction "is less experienced in the negotiating affairs than the SPLM-N negotiating delegation because the African Union Peace and Security Council determined the basis of negotiations and put the unity of Sudan as the first item," he said.
"Arman could have claimed the right to self-determination instead of demanding the self-rule in the negotiations, but he knew it was outside the negotiating framework." he further stressed.
The Sudanese government initially refused to discuss national issues including democratic reforms and freedoms with the SPLM-N but in March 2016 signed the Roadmap Agreement which proposes to hold a comprehensive and inclusive process in Sudan with the opposition groups including the SPLM-N.
The Nuba were very frustrated in 2010 when the SPLM leadership opted for the independence ahead of the self-determination referendum of 2011.
Now, some Nuba natives criticise the SPLM-N leadership for failing to reach a solution that ends their daily severing, pointing they provide the majority of fighters and the war is devastating their land to achieve a national agenda neglecting their local concerns.