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Sudan urges African mediation to resume Two Areas talks

July 29, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - The government negotiating team for the Two Areas talks with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) on Sunday has called on African mediation to set a date to resume the talks.

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Mbeki speaks to participants at the inaugral session of Strategic Consultations Meeting in Addis Ababa on 18 March 2016 (AUHIP Photo)

Member of government team, Osman Andu, has appealed to the African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP) to invite the two sides for a final round of talks to end the conflict and sign a just and comprehensive peace agreement.

Andu, who also serves as deputy chairman of the ruling National Congress Party in South Kordofan, described President Omer al-Bashir’s declaration of a unilateral ceasefire as “advanced positive move”, saying it has created a conducive climate to achieve peace.

He pointed out that the unilateral cessation of hostilities has created a new reality in South Kordofan’s peace file allowing contacts between the two sides.

Andu added the SPLM-N has also adhered to the unilateral ceasefire for the last three years, saying large numbers of civilians and rebels have returned to the state after they were convinced of the futility of war.

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.

Several sources close to the file say the African Union mediation held recently several meetings with the al-Hilu faction but failed to agree with them on agenda for the talks.

The AU is brokering comprehensive peace talks to end the war and achieve democratic reforms. The two-track process comprises the Sudanese government and opposition forces including the armed groups in Darfur and the Two Areas.

During the recent round of talks from 1 to 3 February, the Sudanese government and SPLM-N al-Hilu failed to reach a cessation of hostilities agreement.

Al-Hilu group demands to deliver humanitarian assistance directly from abroad to the rebel-held areas, but Khartoum rejects such request saying all the relief operations should be conducted from the Sudanese territory.

Before the SPLM-N split, the rebel group called to establish a corridor from Asosa on the Ethiopian border to deliver 20 per cent of the humanitarian aid directly to the SPLM-N-controlled areas in the Blue Nile state.

In February talks, the mediation limited the discussions on the cessation of hostilities to the government and the SPLM-N al-Hilu saying Agar faction has no military leverage in the Blue Nile state.

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

(ST)