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Sudan says unaware IGAD would take over Two Areas peace file

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AUHIP head Thabo Mbeki chairs a meeting with of the government (R) and rebel delegations on 30 November 2014 (Courtesy photo/ AUHIP)
January 15, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - The government delegation for the Two Areas talks said the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) didn’t notify Sudan that the East African regional bloc IGAD would carry out the mediation effort instead of the African mediator Thabo Mbeki.

The Sudanese army has been fighting the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, also known as the Two Areas since 2011.

The African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP) led by the former South African president Thabo Mbeki is brokering peace talks between the Sudanese government and SPLM-N.

There has been speculation that the regional bloc would take over the Two Areas negotiation file after the IGAD representative in Khartoum Lesane Johannes last Thursday discussed with Sudan’s chief negotiator Ibrahim Mahmoud resumption of the talks.

However, member of the government delegation and Sudan’s Minister of Animal Resources Bishara Guma’a Aror said the AUPSC is the only party entitled to appoint or remove the mediator of the Two Areas peace talks.

He told Sudan Tribune “Mbeki is delegated by the AUPSC to mediate the Two Areas talks and the [Sudanese] government didn’t receive any notification from the AUPSC that IGAD would take over the mediation file”.

Aror described the meeting between Johannes and Mahmoud as “normal thing” taking into consideration that the former is part of Mbeki’s team.

It is noteworthy that Mbeki didn’t visit Khartoum since April 2017 when the government notified him of its readiness to resume the talks with the armed movements on the bases of the outcome of the national dialogue.

Talks between the government and the SPLM-N for a cessation of hostilities and humanitarian access are stalled since August 2016.

The SPLM-N is now divided into two factions: one led by Abdel Aziz al-Hilu and the other led by Malik Agar. The rift emerged last year over the right of self-determination and other organisational issues.

Last Septmeber, a member of the government negotiating team said they wouldn’t negotiate with a faction of the Sudan SPLM-N Agar, pointing that the latter “has no influence on the ground”.

The SPLM-N al-Hilu has a similar point of view as they say there is no split within the rebel movement, but only a change of leadership stressing they have the SPLA-N support.

On the other hand, the SPLM-N Agar recognizes the rift and proposes to form a joint delegation. If this proposal is rejected they propose to coordinate with the SPLM-N al-Hilu.

Also, the political opposition and armed groups in Darfur that participate in the African Union-brokered process support the involvement of the SPLM-N Agar.

The mediators met the two factions last August, but they didn’t fix a clear position on the matter, while the facilitators from the Troika countries and the European Union also didn’t determine a unified position on the matter.

However, following his meeting with Mahmoud, Johannes said the Two Areas talks would be resumed in February between the government team and the SPLM-N al-Hilu.

(ST)

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