Sudan peace talks resume after deadlock

Friday October 18 2019

Sudan peace talks

From left: Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, President of Sudanese Transitional Council General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, President of South Sudan Salva Kiir and Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni attend a meeting to endorse the peace talks between Sudan's government and rebel leaders in Juba, South Sudan, on October 14, 2019. PHOTO | PETER LOUIS | AFP 

AFP
By AFP
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Peace talks between the Sudanese government and rebels resumed Friday in neighbouring South Sudan after a rocky start saw one of the main groups threaten to pull out, accusing government forces of bombing its territory.

Officials from all sides said that Khartoum, and the two umbrella groups of rebels they are negotiating with, have managed to pin down a partial agenda for discussions.

Mohammed Hassan Alteishi, spokesman for the Sudanese government delegation, told journalists that parties would start discussions on "political issues... humanitarian issues, and security arrangements."

“We stressed the need to agree on a declaration of principles as a roadmap governing the negotiating process” said Alteishi.

He added that the agreement was reached within three hours of the debate, while the former regime failed to reach agreement on the same points in 22 rounds of negotiations.

The talks between the new government in Khartoum and rebels who fought now ousted president Omar al-Bashir's forces in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan states, are being mediated by South Sudan—a former foe still struggling to end its own war.

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They were launched on Monday by South Sudan's President Salva Kiir—who volunteered to mediate—backed by regional leaders including Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

However the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) on Wednesday threatened to pull out unless the government withdrew from an area in the Nuba mountains where it said government attacks were ongoing.

Hours later Khartoum announced a "permanent ceasefire" in the three conflict zones.

An unofficial ceasefire had been in place since Bashir was ousted by the army in April in a palace coup following nationwide protests against his decades-old rule.

SPLM-N secretary general Amar Amon agreed Thursday to return to the negotiating table.

"We have been following the situation on the ground and we have seen the government of Khartoum made some steps which we regarded as positive towards addressing all those issues," he said, adding that some work remained to be done.

The rebel group's spokesman described the initial agreement on agenda points as "a great achievement".

—Additional reporting by Mawahib Abdallatif.

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