19 April 2013

Sudan Government and South Kordofan Rebels Say They Are Ready for Talks

Photo: Paul Banks/UN Photo
Thousands displaced by conflict in Kadugli, the capital of Southern Kordofan State, seek refuge in an area secured by the UN Mission in Sudan, outside Kadugli (file photo).

Both the Sudan government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) fighting against the government in South Kordofan state said on Wednesday (April 17th) they were ready to hold talks on ending the two-year fighting. Talks are due to start in Addis Ababa on Tuesday (April 23rd) next week. This follows an invitation sent to the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North's chairman, Malik Agar, by Thabo Mbeki, chairman of the AU High Level Implementation Panel which has been trying to mediate. A senior Sudanese ruling party official has confirmed that confirmed the talks are due to be held next week, and said the government is fully committed to the time scheduled by the African Union. Although previously rejecting talks, President Al-Bashir said at the beginning of April that the government was seeking a broad political dialogue even with those who are armed. These will be the first direct face-to-face talks in almost two years though the two sides have had indirect contacts through the AU mediators in attempts to allow humanitarian access into conflict areas. However, despite this development, there has been military activity this week with SPLM-N shelling South Kordofan's capital, Kadugli and fighting at Dandor which a government spokesperson said had been retaken on Wednesday.

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