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U.S. urges Sudan and rebels to resume peace talks

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U.S. Chargé d'Affaires Steven Koutsis, USAID and UNAMID officials in Central Darfur Golo town on 19 June 2017 (Photo US Embassy)

December 13, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - U.S. chargé d’Affaires in Khartoum, Steven Koutsis, on Wednesday has called on the Sudanese government and opposition groups to resume peace talks to end the armed conflicts in the country.

The Sudanese army has been fighting the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) rebels in Blue Nile and South Kordofan, also known as the Two Areas since 2011 and a group of armed movements in Darfur since 2003.

The African Union (AU) is brokering peace talks between the Sudanese government and opposition including the armed groups in Darfur and the Two Areas.

Following six days of talks in Addis Ababa in August 2016, the armed movements and the government failed to conclude a deal on the security arrangements and humanitarian access in Darfur and the Two Areas prompting the AU mediation to suspend the talks indefinitely.

On Wednesday, Koutsis met with Presidential Assistant, Ibrahim Mahmoud, who is also the government chief negotiator for the Two Areas talks, at the headquarters of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP).

“The United States believes that time has come to move forward towards peace,”. Koutsis said following the meeting, according to the official news agency SUNA.

“We urge the government and the armed groups to seize this opportunity and engage in constructive negotiations to achieve peace and stability in the country,” he added.

In August 2016, The armed groups and opposition National Umma Party signed a roadmap agreement brokered by the African Union mediators . However, they failed to reach a cessation of hostilities agreement and another deal on the humanitarian access.

The opposition groups were supposed to take part in the national dialogue process but the government concluded it in October last year after the failure of the warring parties to sign a humanitarian truce in the Two Areas and Darfur.

Now, if the humanitarian cessation of hostilities is signed they can only participate in the constitutional process for a permanent fundamental law in Sudan.

But the process has been complicated by the spilt of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North into two factions one led by Malik Agar and the second by Abdel Aziz al-Hilu.

The Troika countries that facilitate the process seek bring the parties to resume talks, as the current unilateral cessation of hostilities cannot continue to hold in the absence of a political process.

(ST)

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