Resumed peace talks between Sudan government and SPLM-N collapse

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ADDIS ABABA (24 Apr.) - The peace negotiations between the Sudanese government and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) on South Kordofan and Blue Nile which were resumed in Addis Ababa on Tuesday have not lead to a break-through. Both sides stuck to their considerably diverging positions. Therefore they agreed today to return the matter again to the chairman of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), Thabo Mbeki.

“The government delegation, led by Dr Ibrahim Ghandour, rejected a ceasefire agreement like the one signed by the Sudanese government and the SPLM/A at Bürgenstock in Switzerland in 2002 with the purpose of facilitating the delivery of relief to the war-torn areas of the Nuba Mountains,” Yasir Arman, head of the SPLM-N delegation in Addis Ababa, said in an interview with Radio Dabanga.

“Ghandour also refused to agree on a cessation of hostilities. He insisted on a definite ceasefire agreement.” “However,” the SPLM-N leader stressed, “such a ceasefire agreement requires a political agreement. We do not reject a comprehensive ceasefire, but the government should be prepared to pay the political bill and be ready to solve the political issues that have caused the war.”

Security arrangements

“Other disagreements concerned the security arrangements. The SPLM-N does consent with the proposal to integrate the rebel forces into the Sudanese army,” Arman explained. “Yet the government wants this to be implemented within one day without discussing alternative proposals. We told Ghandour that the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) has politicised the Sudan Armed Forces, and that the NCP has become the largest owner of arms in Sudan.”

The rebel movement insists on fundamental and thorough reforms of the Sudanese army, the police and the security forces. “The regular forces should be reformed to become professional and independent of any party, and serve the Sudanese nation as a whole.”

“After the signing of a political agreement, the integration of the rebel forces should take place in the same period of time set for the implementation of the political arrangements we are demanding. Yet the government delegation rejected this proposal,” Arman said.

“The government delegation rejected our demand to establish a constitutional dialogue that should lead to new transitional arrangements for a comprehensive peace agreement. Ghandour insisted on negotiating the issues put forward by the SPLM-N within the existing ruling system.”

National dialogue

Dr Ibrahim Ghandour, on his part, acknowledged the large gap between the positions of the negotiating parties. He told the press in Addis Ababa that this divergence clearly emerged in the direct dialogue that took place on Tuesday between the leaders of both delegations. He emphasised the government’s desire to continue the dialogue and reach an agreement on the political, security, and humanitarian issues concerning South Kordofan and the Blue Nile.

“The Sudanese government adheres to the importance of restricting the negotiations to the Two Areas: South Kordofan and the Blue Nile, in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution 2046 of May 2012, the resolutions of the African Union Peace and Security Council, and the proposals of the AUHIP delegation, headed by Thabo Mbeki.”

The government negotiator added that if the SPLM-N desires to discuss a comprehensive solution for the crises in Sudan, they can join the national dialogue, as proposed by President Omar Al Bashir.