Sudan: Peace talks to resume on Wednesday

NAIROBI, 21 January (IRIN) - Peace talks are to resume on Wednesday in a suburb of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, between the government of Sudan and the country's main rebel group, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army.
Both the SPLM/A spokesman, George Garang, and the charge d'affaires at the Sudanese embassy in Nairobi, Muhammad Dirdiery, confirmed to IRIN that their representatives would be present in the suburb of Karen to resume negotiations.

Top of the agenda would be issues concerning power-sharing and wealth-sharing, said Garang. These included the presidency, the participation of southern Sudanese in a national government, the location of the future capital of Sudan, when elections would be held and who would organise them, which laws would govern the country during the transitional period, and the composition of the legislature.

A date and a venue for separate talks concerning the disputed areas of Southern Blue Nile (eastern Sudan), the Nuba Mountains (central Southern Kordofan state) and Abyei (further south in Southern Kordofan) still had to be arranged by the mediators of the talks and agreed on by both sides, Garang added.

"They were supposed to be discussed in this session, but the government objected," he said.

"We have agreed to discuss those areas in separate talks," Dirdiery commented. "But before they take place, the modalities will be discussed."

The resumption of the talks, convened under the auspices of the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), was postponed from 15 January, reportedly because Khartoum did not wish to include the disputed areas on the agenda.

In a separate development, on Sunday both the government and the SPLM signed an agreement to allow the delivery of international aid - to be coordinated by the UN-led Operation Lifeline Sudan - to the whole country for an indefinite period. "There is no time limit on it," Garang told IRIN.

During the last round of peace talks, which were adjourned on 18 November, negotiations revolved mainly around issues of power and wealth-sharing and resulted in a memorandum of understanding (MOU), in which the parties agreed to observe a countrywide ceasefire. Since then both sides have accused each of attacking the other's positions during the agreed period of tranquility.


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