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Stalemate in Sudanese peace talks

August 15 - 2016 ADDIS ABABA
The signing of the AU roadmap by four Sudanese opposition groups in Addis Ababa, 8 August 2016 (RD)
The signing of the AU roadmap by four Sudanese opposition groups in Addis Ababa, 8 August 2016 (RD)

The Addis Ababa negotiations between the Sudanese government and the armed movements that started on Wednesday have reached a stalemate, with each party accusing the other of ‘obstruction’.

The simultaneous peace talks between the government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) on the Two Areas (South Kordofan and Blue Nile states) on one hand, and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Minawi faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-MM) on Darfur on the other hand, reached a deadlock on Sunday. Each party accused the other of obstructing the possibility of reaching a cessation of hostilities for the period of one month.

The AU mediation team, chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, intervened on Sunday by proposing a compromise to the warring parties. The closed-door discussions about the proposal lasted until late at night.

Darfur

JEM leader Dr Jibril Ibrahim holds the government responsible for the failure of the new round of peace talks. He told Radio Dabanga on Sunday that the negotiations face three basic obstacles.

“The first one is related to the government’s insistence that we give away the precise locations of our combatants' positions in Darfur, in return for the cessation of hostilities for the period of only one month: Telling them the position of our forces today, means that they will bomb us tomorrow,” he said, pointing to renewed air raids on Darfur's Jebel Marra last week, “while President Al Bashir declared a four-month ceasefire in June.

“The second obstacle concerns the government's refusal to talk about the detained rebel fighters, who are languishing in the government's prisons in the worst conditions. Many of them are ill, and some died of tuberculosis,” Ibrahim explained.

“Lastly, the government insists on the delivery of relief to people affected in rebel-held areas, and we do not trust the authorities that monitor the aid operations.”

Amin Hassan Omar, the head of the government delegation for the Darfur negotiations, told reporters in Addis Ababa that “all parties have to identify their military sites. Without the exchange of information about the locations, we cannot agree on a cessation of hostilities”.

He said that the government understands the problems facing the movements. “Most of their military forces are stationed outside Sudan. But it is difficult for them to admit this.”

Omar also pointed to “major and central issues relating to the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) that cannot be surpassed, as the DDPD is the basis for the peace process in Darfur”.

Two Areas

The peace talks on South Kordofan and Blue Nile states resumed on Sunday morning, after long consultation sessions between the warring parties the previous days, mediated by members of the AU High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) and representatives of the Ethiopian government.

Hassan Ahmed Hamed, the spokesman for the government delegation, told reporters in the Ethiopian capital that the negotiators of both sides “were about to sign a cessation of hostilities agreement, when the SPLM-N put the condition that the humanitarian aid to people in rebel-held areas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile State should be delivered through direct passageways from South Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia.

“It was possible to sign the agreement on Saturday, but the SPLM-N delegation insisted on putting unreasonable, unrealistic, and unenforceable conditions concerning the humanitarian aid delivery across the border,” he said, describing the delivery of aid from abroad as “neither practical nor economical, especially because South Sudan itself receives humanitarian aid from Sudan”.

Rebel spokesman Mubarak Ardol reported in a press statement that the government rejected the proposal posed by the SPLM-N concerning the delivery of relief via Khartoum for 80 percent. The remaining 20 percent would reach the affected through foreign tracks.

Ardol stated that the government delegation “insists on its position in an attempt to keep its monopoly on the relief distribution paths, and to use the humanitarian aid as a political pressure tool”.

He further reported that the SPLM-N proposed the restructuring of the Sudan Armed Forces, the dissolution of the government militias, and disarming of all forces of all parties.


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