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SPLM-N suspends talks with Sudan government

October 23 - 2016 ADDIS ABABA
Malik Agar (L), President of the SPLM-N, and Secretary-General Yasir Arman (file photo)
Malik Agar (L), President of the SPLM-N, and Secretary-General Yasir Arman (file photo)

In reaction to a recent report about the Sudan government’s alleged use of chemical weapons in Darfur, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-N) has decided to suspend the peace negotiations with Khartoum.

In a press statement on Friday, the SPLM-N point to the report of Amnesty International (AI) in late September that offers “strong indicative evidence of the use of chemical weapons by the Government of Sudan in Darfur”.

The rebel movement therefore suspends “all political engagement” with the Sudanese government. It will “be ready only to negotiate a humanitarian cessation of hostilities, to address the humanitarian crisis and provide civilian protection” in the Two Areas (Blue Nile and South Kordofan).

The SPLM-N demands that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons investigates the use of chemical weapons in Darfur, the Blue Nile, and the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan.

“The report [on the use of chemical weapons] sets forth a qualitatively new dimension to the genocidal war in Sudan, and as such, the people of Sudan, the region, and the international community should take it seriously,” the statement reads.

“The Sudan government has continuously undermined the international humanitarian law; therefore, this time, it should not be business as usual.”

In Scorched Earth, Poisoned Air, released on 29 September, AI features satellite images, survivor testimonies, and photos to confirm the occurrence of “war crimes” in Sudan’s war-torn western region. Using satellite imagery, more than 200 in-depth interviews with survivors and expert analysis of dozens of appalling images showing babies and young children with terrible injuries, the investigation indicates that at least 30 likely chemical attacks have taken place in Darfur’s Jebel Marra area since January this year.

In early October, the Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) reported that medical officials in the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan have seen symptoms consistent with chemical weapons exposure.

According to the SPLM-N, “It is clear the government, whilst talking about a peaceful settlement, is in reality pursuing genocide against the civilian population as a means of ending the war.

“In fact the Sudan government is using the political process as a cover-up to prolong the humanitarian suffering, and we can only unlock the political process by addressing the humanitarian crisis as an entry point to the political process by reaching a humanitarian cession of hostilities,” the armed movement states.

“The SPLM-N can no longer afford political engagement at the expense of the humanitarian crisis and civilian protection [in the Two Areas, that should be] in accordance with the international humanitarian law and the customary international law, to which the Sudan government is a party, including the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.”

The rebel movement further mentions that Khartoum “is building up military forces from its militias and army, preparing for a dry-season offensive in the Nuba Mountain and Blue Nile, which usually results in more civilian casualties”.

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