The Political Bureau of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) has launched a new initiative to break the peace talks deadlock with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N).
Earlier this week, the NCP proposed the establishment of a joint UN-AU committee tasked with “the removal of the barriers for the delivery of humanitarian aid” in the Two Areas (Blue Nile and South Kordofan states).
The rebel movement downplayed the initiative in a statement on Thursday. According to the SPLM-N, such a joint committee has already been suggested in a previous negotiation round. It considers the initiative as “a new attempt to buy time”.
The last round of simultaneous negotiations between the Sudanese government and the SPLM-N on the Two Areas, and the Justice and Equality Moment (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Movement headed by Minni Minawi (SLM-MM) on Darfur, brokered by the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) in Addis Ababa collapsed on 14 August.
Both sides accused the other of obstructing the peace talks. While the introduction of new issues by the JEM and SLM-MM caused the negotiations on Darfur to collapse, the provision of humanitarian aid to the war victims lead to a deadlock in the talks concerning the Two Areas.
In a statement on 17 August, the AU mediation team stated that the SPLM-N wanted to include a provision guaranteeing that limited assistance could be sourced through Ethiopia. The government accepted that assistance could come from outside the country but it should be channelled through ports of entry in government-held areas.
“In the face of this impasse, the Panel proposed that the government and the SPLM-N should entrust the provision of humanitarian assistance to the UN, and that the UN should be allowed to determine, on the basis of its assessment of the needs, the most efficient and cost-effective way to meet the humanitarian needs,” the AUHIP wrote.