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SPLM-N Agar won’t participate in next round of Two Areas talks: British envoy

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SPLM-N negotiating team meet withthe AUHIP ahead of direct talks withthe government on 9 August 2016 (Courtesy Photo of SPLM-N)
January 23, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - The British Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan Chris Trott said the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N Agar) led by Malik Agar won’t take part in the next round of the Two Areas talks with the government in February.

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 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.

On January 16, the Sudanese government and SPLM-N al-Hilu said they received an invitation from the African mediation to resume Two Areas talks from I to 2 February in Addis Ababa.

The African Union (AU) office in Khartoum Mahmoud Kan said the two sides would seek to sign a ceasefire agreement.

In an interview with the Khartoum-based Al-Sudani newspaper on Tuesday, Trott said “it seems to us that al-Hilu is in control of the military operations”.

“That is why Arman won’t be part of any negotiations on a cessation of hostilities because these talks and discussions will be held between two armies,” he added.

It is noteworthy that the SPLM-N Agar deputy chairman Yassir Arman was the Movement’s chief negotiator before the split.

Last week, Arman warned against any attempt to exclude their group from the peace process to end the six-year conflict in the Two Areas.

“The mediation and the international community should take seriously that the peace process should include both factions,” said Arman at an event at Chatham House in London

The British envoy described the SPLM-N split as “unfortunate” because it prolonged the peace process, saying the Sudanese government shares the same view in this regard.

On the other hand, Trott stressed the need that the SPLM-N Agar must be part of the peace process, saying the African mediator has exerted significant efforts to push forward the peace process but his efforts were hampered by the split.

“We could hardly wait until the peace process is resumed … we waited for 18 months to reach the stage of the cessation of hostilities and allow access of humanitarian assistance” he said

Trott expressed his optimism that the next round of talks would achieve a positive outcome, saying they held a number of meetings to ensure the success of the talks.

He further pledged to the Sudanese government, the African mediation and the opposition to make every possible effort to support the peace process and achieve positive results on the ground.

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

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

Both, Sudan and the SPLM-N al-Hilu have declared a unilateral cessation of hostilities in the war zones.

(ST)

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