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SPLM-N calls to postpone Sudan peace talks and to delay lift of U.S. sanction

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Mbeki chairs a meeting with the SPLM-N leaders (L) and the regional and international envoys on 24 April 2017 (ST Photo)

April 24, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) Monday announced they agreed with the African Union chief mediator Thabo Mbeki to postpone peace talks to next July and requested Washington to delay the permanent lifting of sanctions on Sudan for another six-month period.

An SPLM-N delegation, including its chairman Malik Agar, secretary general Yasir Arman and SPLA-N deputy chief of general staff Izzat Koko has been in Addis Ababa for talks with the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) and delegation from the U.S. State Department.

In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, the rebel group which fights the Sudanese government in the South Kordofan and the Blue Nile states said they met with the AUHIP Chair Thabo Mbeki and his teamwork with the participation of the UN special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, IGAD envoy and African Union representative in Sudan.

During the meeting, the SPLM-N delegation expressed its readiness to take part in a meeting the AUHIP plans to hold with the opposition alliance Sudan Call forces soon.

The rebel group further “requested President Mbeki to wait before to present any new ideas in his report to the African Union Peace and Security Council until he meets with the Sudan Call and to and take into account its positions,” further said a statement issued by Mubarak Ardol SPLM-N spokesperson for peace talks.

After a series of talks with the Sudanese government officials earlier this month, Mbeki announced that he would convene a meeting with the opposition Sudan Call groups followed by a meeting with the High Implementation Committee (HIC) to discuss the outcome of the government-led national dialogue process.

But the opposition groups including the SPLM-N rejected the idea saying they want to discuss the implementation of the Roadmap Agreement they signed with the government in order to hold a genuine and inclusive dialogue leading to peace and democratic reforms in Sudan.

Ardol said they asked to postpone peace talks with the government until next July to give them the needed time to settle an internal rift following the resignation of the deputy chairman Abdel Aziz al-Hilu.

Also, the SPLM would like to find “answers over the American (humanitarian) proposal and to discuss the issues which the movement raised and sees important that the American proposal to take into account,” he added.

The SPLM-N has declined an American proposal to transport medical assistance to the rebel-held areas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states instead of its demand to transport 20% of the humanitarian aid via a direct humanitarian corridor from Asosa, Ethiopia.

The SPLM-N leadership delegation, according to Ardol, held also a separate meeting in Addis Ababa with U.S. diplomats to discuss the humanitarian proposal, the final objectives of the peace process, and the specificities of war zones and U.S. sanctions on Sudan.

“The SPLM-N further called on the U.S. administration to delay the lifting of sanctions for another six-month period, and to link it tightly to the humanitarian issues, end of war, end of human rights violations, restore freedoms and achieve democratic transformation, stop the attacks on Sudanese Christians and protect their rights, and to ensure the release of political prisoners,” said the statement.

Last January, the former U.S. special envoy for Sudan, Donald Booth, said he wished that the implementation of a humanitarian cessation of hostilities intervenes during the six-month period that Washington and Khartoum fixed to implement five commitments the latter accepted to implement before to lift permanently important parts of sanctions on Sudan.

Since the arrival of the administration of President Donald Trump last January, the SPLM-N has called for meetings with Washington to discuss its reservations on the proposal and ways to ensure them a safe humanitarian corridor to transport their wounded and sick fighters abroad for treatment.

(ST)

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