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African mediators suspend talks on Sudan’s Two Areas

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December 8, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) - The African Union mediation on Monday suspended the peace talks on the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states, among statements by both sides accusing each other of obstructing efforts for a comprehensive peace in Sudan.

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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)

The process, which resumed on 13 November, has very quickly stalled over the priorities that should be addressed at this stage of the discussions on the framework agreement based on a roadmap for an inclusive process adopted by the African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC) last September.

The African plan provides to hold one process with two tracks on Darfur and the Two Areas. The bicameral operation was designed to pour into one forum including all the political forces to endorse a framework for the national dialogue which will be held inside the country.

However since the start of the discussions, the government kept referring to a draft framework agreement on the Tow Areas proposed by the mediation in April, while the SPLM-N said the PSC roadmap provides the necessary ingredients for a process on the whole Sudan.

Khartoum said the negotiations should focus on a ceasefire and the security arrangements in the Two Areas , but the rebels insisted on a comprehensive cessation of hostilities.

The SPLM-N further says the current stage should prepare for a “national constitutional dialogue” as the government rejects the inclusion of the opposition parties, pointing that the discussions should be limited to the armed groups.

The African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), which mediates the peace talks in Sudan, informed the two negotiating delegation of the postponement of the talks to the next January without further details.

The AUHIP head and chief mediator, Thabo Mbeki, notified his decision to the two parties but he didn’t announce his decision publically.

On the other side, the head of the two negotiating teams, Ibrahim Ghandour for the government and Yasir Arman for the SPLM-N, held two separate press conference where they traded accusations of hampering the process.

Ghandour told reporters that the SPLM-N is not ready for peace but “prisoner of its alliances” with other rebel and opposition groups, pointing that Arman seeks to include them in the process and to impose new items.

He said that the rebel chief negotiator seeks to include Darfur region in the talks on the Two Areas and associate the other rebels and the opposition parties.

"The Movement wants to continue war and to achieve a political agenda under the name of the Two Areas," Ghandour further said.

Before to announce the suspension of the talks, Mbeki met with the two delegations after delivering them new propositions aiming to bridge the gaps between the two sides.

Arman told reporters that Mbeki suggested new ideas and posed some questions related to the self rule, security arrangements and its relation with the political arrangements and issues pertaining to the predatory all-parties conference at the AU headquarters.

The SPLM-N top negotiator said the government wants only an agreement on security arrangements without to reach a political deal on the issues of the Two Areas.

“It became absolutely clear to us that the government delegation wants the SPLA-N weapons but does not want solutions to the Two Areas. It does not want to talk about the final status of governance issues in the Two Areas, issues of citizenship in the Two Areas, economic issues in the Two Areas, and land issues in the Two Areas,” he emphasised.

He further said the government wants to limits the talks to the rebel groups and refuses to include the other political forces in the process, pointing to the propositions the AUHIP made on the preparatory conference and the concessions they showed on this regard.

Ghandour accused Arman of seeking to include the Paris Declaration groups and the Sudan Call parties, while the latter said that the former wants the preparatory conference includes only the national dialogue committee and the “Armed Movements”.

The two chief negotiators however reaffirmed their readiness to resume talks next month when the AUHIP determine a new date for the discussions.

Last week, the mediation already suspended the talks between the government and Darfur rebel groups. Khartoum said it is only disposed to negotiate a ceasefire agreement but the rebels said they want to discuss matters related to the western Sudan region.

Ghandour said the government will continue the national dialogue with the participation of those who have accepted to be part of the process.

The Sudanese government refuses opposition and rebel demands for the postponement of general elections scheduled for April 2014.

(ST)

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