Juba — Today, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North faction under the leadership of Abdelaziz El Hilu (SPLM-N El Hilu) and the Sudanese transitional government reached an agreement on a roadmap for peace negotiations concerning South Kordofan. Separately, the joint committee formed by members of the Sudan Revolutionary Front and the Sudanese government delegation, concluded its first meeting.
The agreement defines three negotiating items concerning political, security, and humanitarian arrangements.
The spokesman for the SPLM-N El Hilu negotiation team, El Jak Mahmoud, reported in a press conference in Juba this afternoon that the two negotiating parties expressed the necessity to agree on a Declaration of Principles as a roadmap for the regulation of the peace talks process. Also, the two parties agreed to present their perceptions on the political agenda.
The agreement was signed by Lt Gen Shamseldin Kabashi on behalf of the Sudanese government, Amar Daldoum, chairman of the SPLM-N El Hilu negotiation team, and Tut Galwak, the chairman of the South Sudanese mediation committee.
SPLM-N El Hilu spokesman El Jak Mahmoud deemed the agreement "a factual break-through", given the movement's previous experiences with the former regime headed by ousted President Omar al Bashir.
"A break-through like this is not surprising for a government that is inspired by such a great revolution as the December revolution." - Mohamed El Taayshi, member of Sudan's Sovereign Council
"For instance, during the past eight years there were 22 rounds of negotiations with the former regime without reaching an agreement on the negotiation issues, while yesterday we have reached such an agreement in one session that only lasted three hours," Mahmoud stated.
He further confirmed that the negotiations will continue on Saturday. The SPLM-N will then present its views on the Declaration of Principles.
Member of Sudan's Sovereign Council and spokesman for the government delegation, Mohamed El Taayshi, expressed his gratitude regarding the quick break-through. "A break-through like this is not surprising for a government that is inspired by such a great revolution as the December revolution," he said.
On Friday morning, a joint committee consisting of members of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF, a coalition of armed movements) and the Sudanese government delegation, concluded its first meeting, chaired by the South Sudanese mediation committee. The joint committee has been authorised to determine the peace talks agenda.
The meeting discussed the best ways to advance the peace process and how to move from the confidence-building phase and the Juba Declaration of Principles signed by the parties in Juba on September 11, to the stage of negotiations of the core issues.
In a press conference after the meeting, both parties expressed their determination to reach a comprehensive peace agreement to put an end to the armed conflict.
El Taayshi stated that the joint committee was formed to review what was agreed upon in the Juba Declaration and to specify the agenda for the peace process. He described this development as "a crucial step in scheduling the discourse topics" that will enable the parties to achieve a major break-through in a short time.
The SRF is committed to achieving peace through dialogue with the government and will adhere to the negotiation's roadmap, SRF chairman El Hadi Idris told Radio Dabanga this afternoon.
He stated that South Sudan, responsible for the mediation, should contact the countries mentioned in the Juba Declaration of Principles to ensure their participation in the ongoing peace process as facilitators or observers.
"The South Sudanese government must reach out to the UN and the AU to obtain an explicit mandate to host the peace talks" - El Hadi Idris, current chairman of the Sudan Revolutionary Front
Member of the SRF negotiating delegation Ahmed Tugud reported that the joint committee discussed the agenda and methodology of the negotiations in the coming phase. Once agendas are completed, it could be presented as a political declaration within the next two days, or as a new Declaration of Principles.
On Thursday, the mediation team agreed with the request made by the SRF to suspend the negotiations for a period of two weeks to a month. In the meantime, the parties would set up a joint committee that would discuss the agenda for the peace talks.
Both Idris and Tugud told this station that the SRF discussed with the mediation committee the original mandate of Unamid and the African Union for the Darfur peace talks track, and the mandate of the African Union High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) for negotiations concerning the Two Areas (Blue Nile state and the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan).
The joint committee agreed that Juba is to obtain a clear mandate to host and mediate the Sudanese peace negotiations.
Idris reaffirmed that Juba will the venue for the negotiations. "Having said this, the South Sudanese government must reach out to the United Nations and the African Union to obtain an explicit mandate to host the concerned peace talks", he said.
The chairman of the Mediation Committee, Tut Galwak, reiterated in the press conference this afternoon that Juba is keen to help the negotiating parties to reach a comprehensive peace agreement to end the wars in Sudan.
He emphasised that both Sudan and South Sudan are, like the other African countries, committed "to end all forms of war" on the continent by the end of 2020.