Sudan: SPLM-N ready to discuss US, AU proposals for aid delivery
The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) says it has not rejected a US initiative for the provision of humanitarian aid to the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
Addressing a promotion ceremony for officers of the movement’s Second Infantry in one of the rebel-held areas in the Two Areas (South Kordofan and Blue Nile) on Saturday, SPLM-N Chairman Malik Agar emphasised that the movement is not advocating war, but is reaching out for peace.
He denied that the SPLM-N has refused the US initiative for the provision of humanitarian aid to the Two Areas. He said that what they rejected is “the full control of the Sudanese government on the assistance to be provided by the US administration and to be distributed by the United Nations”.
On 16 January, the leadership of the SPLM-N met with Donald Booth, US Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, in the French capital to discuss humanitarian access for South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
Washington proposed USAID would deliver assistance from Khartoum directly to the Two Areas after inspection of the aid items by the Sudanese authorities. The SPLM-N instead opted for an external crossing point for at least 20 percent of the relief goods, in Asosa area at the Ethiopian-Sudanese border, which was in turn rejected by the Sudanese government.
The latest round of peace negotiations between Khartoum and the SPLM-N, brokered by the AU High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), reached a stalemate in August last year after both parties adhered to their stances concerning the itinerary of the aid items.
In his speech on Saturday, Agar blamed the Sudanese media for the way they denounced the rebel movement’s initial reserves regarding the US proposal. “The issue of peace is in the interest of all Sudanese. We consider the way the press dealt with the case as irresponsible whether it was done intentionally or in good faith.”
He said that “The SPLM-N is ready to discuss the AUHIP and US initiatives concerning the delivery of humanitarian aid, yet with some proposed amendments”.
The rebel leader further said that he expects an invitation by Thabo Mbeki, Head of the AUHIP, in the coming days, for consultation about renewed peace talks.
“However, the movement remains committed to the position of the Sudan Appeal forces, that genuine negotiations can only take place in a conducive climate, when the attacks have stopped, humanitarian aid has been delivered, and civil liberties restored,” he said.
Agar further said that the SPLM-N has extended its unilateral cessation of hostilities for six months. “Khartoum has prolonged its ceasefire as well, but we doubt the government's intentions and seriousness, as it always breaches its own promises and decisions.”
He demanded the SPLM-N combatants “to abide by the movement’s ceasefire but be ready to repulse any aggression”.
In December 2014, the Sudan Revolutionary Front, an alliance of the main rebel movements headed by Agar, signed the Sudan Appeal, a two-page document calling for regime-change and democracy, in Addis Ababa. The National Umma Party, the National Consensus Forces, a coalition of opposition parties, and the Civil Society Initiative signed the document as well. Other parties and civil society groups joined the Sudan Appeal in the following year.
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