Sudan: Rebels Suspend Juba Peace Talks After Militia Ambush in South Kordofan

Juba / Habila — The Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North faction in South Kordofan led by Abdelaziz El Hilu (SPLM-N El Hilu) has suspended negotiations with Sudan's transitional government on Wednesday accusing government forces of violating the agreed ceasefire.

A statement issued by Ammar Daldoum, head of the movement's delegation to the negotiations in Juba - that were scheduled to resume today - said that yesterday, elements of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) government militia driving Land Cruisers reportedly ambushed civilians on the road which connects the western and eastern regions, near Khor Waral in Habila locality, which is part of the "liberated areas". The RSF detained 16 people. They released three of them later, but still hold 13 people including their goods and belongings.

The movement says it will only return to negotiations after an immediate cessation of hostilities, the immediate release of the detained civilians, and the immediate handover of the area to the SPLM-N El Hilu.

The movement also demands the immediate withdrawal of government forces from the occupied areas, the lifting of ambushes in Khor Waral and other areas, and an investigation into the assassination of Sheikh Mohamed Abdelfadil, Sheikh of Zalataya village.

Countrywide cease fire

Chairman of Sudan's Transitional Sovereign Council (TSC), Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, on Wednesday issued a constitutional decree declaring a cease-fire "on al fronts throughout Sudan". He asserted that "this decree affirms the sincerity of the leadership to move forward for achieving peace, halting the bloodshed and meeting the demands of the Sudanese people and leading the country to the ranks of developed countries".

Mohamed El Taayshi, member of the TSC, and spokesman for the government delegation in the Juba negotiations, affirmed the government's commitment to continue the dialogue on peace: "The only alternative for peace is peace", and "Sudan has an historic opportunity to achieve comprehensive peace and turn the page of war."

He said the recent events between local groups in the area of Khor Waral in South Kordofan will not affect the peace process, and will be thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators will be prosecuted and held accountable according to law.

In a joint press conference with the chairman of the South Sudanese mediation team, Tut Galwak, in Juba today, El Taayshi acknowledged that the Khor Waral events affected the timetable for direct negotiations with the SPLM-N El Hilu, scheduled to begin this morning.

'Commitment to peace'

El Taayshi considered the renewal of the ceasefire by the government as evidence of the government's commitment to peace as a strategic choice endorsed by the transitional period documents and supported by popular will in Sudan and the region.

Tut Galwak, chairman of the mediation team confirmed the continuation of the negotiations, saying that direct negotiations with the SRF will resume this evening.

He commended the Sudanese government's commitment to the issue of peace. Sudan. Galwak stressed the mediation commitment to continue negotiations between the Sudanese parties until comprehensive peace is achieved in Sudan.

In Khartoum, the Cabinet, headed by PM Abdallah Hamdok, listened to a briefing on the peace negotiations in Juba between the government and the SPLM-N El Hilu, and the government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front separately.

Feisal Mohamed Salih, Minister of Culture and Information, explained in a press conference that there are four negotiation axes, with each axis is headed by a minister.

The security arrangements are dealt with by Minister of Defence, the axis of economic development by the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, the axis of laws by the Minister of Justice, and the axis of politics and governance by the federal Minister of Governance, in addition to the existence of technical committees to assist with the four subjects.

Hemeti meets Kiir

Direct talks between the Sudanese government delegation, headed by Lt Gen Mohamed Hamdan 'Hemeti' (who is also the commander of the RSF militia) and the negotiation team of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North faction under the leadership of Abdelaziz El Hilu, SPLM-N El Hilu headed by its secretary general Ammar Daldoum, accompanied by 11 members, were scheduled to resume in Juba this morning.

During a meeting ahead of the talks with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir yesterday, Hemeti, affirmed Sudan's commitment to the Juba Forum to embrace peace negotiations between the government and the armed struggle factions "with an open heart and sincere intention to reach a comprehensive peace agreement".

Darfur Woman Action Group

Niemat Ahmadi, Chairperson for the Darfur Women Action Group, welcomed the ongoing peace negotiations in Juba between the government and the armed movements, however, in an interview with Radio Dabanga, Ahmadi said that "South Sudan suffers from multiple problems and does not have the capacity to become a forum for peace negotiations".

She criticised the countries participating in the ongoing peace process, pointing out that "they have interests in Sudan, which negatively affect the peace process".

Ahmadi called on the transitional government to create a state that is capable, efficient and impartial. She pointed out that the conditions for the success of the negotiations are the integrity of the methodology, the impartiality of the mediator, and the sincere and serious intention to achieve peace.

Ahmadi warned that the current peace negotiations would not succeed in the event that the platform's requirements and methodology were not respected.

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