AU mediation suspends Sudan peace talks
The Addis Ababa negotiations between the Sudanese government and the faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, led by Abdelaziz El Hilu (SPLM-N El Hilu), were adjourned on Sunday. Khartoum wants a definite agreement on security arrangements first, while the SPLM-N prioritises the delivery of humanitarian aid to the victims of the conflict.
After the two sides failed to reach an agreement on the delivery of humanitarian aid to the conflict affected people in the Two Areas (South Kordofan and Blue Nile) this weekend, the AU High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) decided to suspend the talks for an indefinite period of time.
At the end of the negotiations round, that began on Wednesday, the parties issued a joint statement [see below] in which they confirmed their desire to continue the negotiations, and each declared an extension of a unilateral ceasefire in the region.
Amar Amoun, General-Secretary of the SPLM-N El Hilu and head of the delegation to the Addis Ababa negotiations, told Radio Dabanga that the talks failed because of the disagreement concerning the cessation of hostilities and the delivery routes for relief items to the areas controlled by the movement.
“Khartoum considers the matter a security issue in the first place - while the SPLM-N believes that the main issue is a political one.”
“We submitted a proposal on the cessation of hostilities with the aim to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to the victims of the conflict as soon as possible. The government delegation however kept to their vision regarding a definite ceasefire agreement,” he said.
“Khartoum considers the matter a security issue in the first place. They adhere to the idea that a comprehensive ceasefire will solve all the problems, while the SPLM-N believes that the main issue is a political one.”
Amoun emphasised that the marginalisation of the people in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states by Khartoum led to the discontent of the people. “They tried to get their rights by peaceful means. When this was met with even more violence, they took up arms which led to the current security problem.
“Therefore, this security issue must be dealt with first as part of the negotiations about the political framework. We can deal with a definite ceasefire and other security arrangements later," he explained. “For this reason we opted for separate sessions: On a ceasefire to facilitate the delivery of relief items, the humanitarian aid routes, a political solution, and the definitive security arrangements. In this way, aid can reach the people already while the peace negotiations are continuing.”
In his address to the paramilitary Popular Defence Forces in Khartoum on Sunday, President Omar Al Bashir pledged “to beat all corrupt people and conspirators [in the country] and to build a strong army to defend the Sudanese borders, confront all enemies, and impose peace by force if it does not not come through dialogue”.
“The enemies continuously change their methods. Sometimes, the war is criminal, other times, they use economic means to break the will of the people”.
Al Bashir told the attendants of the 2017 performance evaluation of the government militia that “this stage is the stage of multiplying battalions, battalions that increase production, and electronic battalions, to confront the mental war that seeks to defeat the people psychologically”.
He warned that “the enemies continuously change their methods. Sometimes, the war is criminal, other times, they use economic means to break the will of the people”.
Early January, the government implemented the 2018 National Budget, including major austerity measures, that led to huge price hikes. Prices of basic commodities doubled, and in some cases, tripled.
People in various Sudanese towns took to the streets in protest against the soaring prices. Opposition parties organised a number of demonstrations in Khartoum. Security forces detained more than 450 people, among them many opposition leaders.
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