Sudan: Khartoum Speaks About Possible Talks With SPLM-N

Khartoum — Sudanese government may engage direct negotiations with the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) if Juba hands documents proving its disengagement with the latter.

The African Union Peace and Security Council in a meeting held on 25 January urged the chief mediator Thabo Mbeki to convene talks between the Sudanese government and SPLM-N over the humanitarian and political issues.

Officials sources in Khartoum said the Sudanese government will start discussions with the SPLM-N if the South Sudanese side in the Joint Political and Military Committee hands documents on the disengagement it had pledged to provide in a meeting scheduled for 13 February.

The sources also said the African mediation is expected to extend an official invitation to the Sudanese government on Tuesday to commence talks with the rebels on the humanitarian and political files on 15 February.

Daniel Kodi, a leader of splinter faction of the SPLM-N, and former governor of South Kordofan state met on Monday with the speaker of the Sudanese parliament Ahmed Ibrahim Al-Taher to discuss the situation in the Two Areas and ongoing preparation for talks with the SPLM-N.

Kodi, who is also a member of the government's negotiating team told reporters following the meeting that he discussed proposals his party, SPLM- Peace Stream, presented during the previous rounds of talks between the two parties.

He said their proposals which were accepted by the two parties may be "endorsed in the next round as basis for negotiations".

The Sudanese government and the SPLM-N held last year a number of indirect talks in Addis Ababa but the parties failed to hold direct discussions on the agendas the proposed by the mediation.

However in August 2012 they signed a three-month humanitarian agreement which was not implemented as they failed to agree on the modalities of its implementation. On the political level, Sudan demanded the disengagement with South Sudan and the SPLM-N demanded a comprehensive process before to start direct negotiations.

Asked by Sudan Tribune to comment on this development, SPLM-N secretary general, Yasir Arman said they are not aware of the talks because the mediation did not yet invite them to meet the Sudanese government.

"We will react when we receive a letter from AUHP chief Thabo Mbeki", he said. Adding that in their last meeting with him they discussed the humanitarian and political situation and "we reiterated that we are always ready to discuss with the mediation".

Arman underscored that the humanitarian situation in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan is alarming and Sudanese government has to prove its seriousness by allowing the access of aid groups to the SPLM-N held areas.

"The humanitarian crisis in the Two Areas is the biggest crisis in Africa today. If Khartoum is not ready to give food to the affected civilians how they can be ready for any political settlement", he said.

Malik Agar, SPLM-N chairman, said on 29 January that the humanitarian access to two states will create suitable atmosphere to a comprehensive political process including Darfur rebels and opposition parties.

Asked about the statements Kodi made, Arman said "Kodi is part of the National Congress Party and we had never discussed with him any proposal, let alone to agree with him".

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