SPLM-N: Focus on aid in Sudan peace talks
Days before the consultative meeting between the Sudanese government, main rebel movements and an opposition party in Addis Ababa, the SPLM-N voiced its position on the resumption of peace negotiations.
In mid-February, the High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) invited the Sudanese government, the National Umma Party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), and the Darfuri Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Minni Minawi (SLM-AW) for a consultative strategic meeting in the Ethiopian capital, in a bid to break the deadlocks between the warring parties.
The meeting on 18 March is expected to discuss the resumption of peace talks besides the participation of the opposition groups in Sudan's National Dialogue.
The head of Darfur Peace Office and co-chief negotiator Amin Hassan Omer stated to the Sudan Media Centre on Monday that the agenda of the consultations depends on the outcome of discussions with AUHIP mediator Thabo Mbeki. He visited Khartoum this week. Omer said he expects Mbeki to clarify the purpose of the invitation.
In a press statement yesterday, the SPLM-N called on the AUHIP to separate the humanitarian and political process of the negotiations. Yasir Arman, secretary-general of the SPLM-N said that the panel needs to put focus on the humanitarian process and the right of civilians to humanitarian assistance, regardless of the failure to achieve a common political agenda between the parties.
“The SPLM-N is ready to take the Switzerland humanitarian agreement on the Nuba Mountains, which was sponsored by the U.S. government and Switzerland, as a basis to resolve the current impasse with regard to reaching an agreement on the humanitarian situation,” Arman said, referring to an agreement with the government on 19 January 2002.
The secretary-general added that the rebel group is keen to negotiate “on multiple access points from inside and outside Sudan that would include El Obeid, Kadugli, and Ed Damazin from inside and Ethiopia, Kenya, and South Sudan from outside Sudan”. The Sudanese government has refused this demand to receive humanitarian aid directly from outside Sudan, stressing that Sudanese aid workers should be involved in the relief distribution.
“The government's military offensive is currently at its peak in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile, where the SPLM-N is under attack.”
Arman further reported that Sudan's dry season offensive “is at its peak in the Two Areas [South Kordofan and Blue Nile] whereby the civilians are the primary targets of the Sudan government”. In Blue Nile, the SPLM-N is under attack by the government troops in areas under their control, from three directions over the last three months. In the Nuba Mountains, the army attacks the rebel-hold areas from eight directions.
The SPLM-N reiterated its stance that it will not join the ongoing National Dialogue process in Khartoum. They are ready, however, “to participate in a second phase of a credible National Dialogue process under the auspices of the AUHIP and in accordance with the African Union resolutions”.
“The SPLM-N and the Sudan Call forces will never be included in the present first phase of the national dialogue that is cooked and controlled by the National Congress government whether they extended it for 1 month or 1,000 months,” Arman said.
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