Juba — On Wednesday morning, the first general negotiation session began at the Palm Africa Hotel in the South Sudan capital of Juba, at the start of the third round of the reconvened negotiations between the government delegation headed by Lt Gen Mohamed Hamdan 'Hemeti', Deputy Chairman of the Sovereign Council, and the armed movements.
The session discussed the regulations governing the negotiation process, reviewing what was agreed upon regarding the Juba Declaration of Principles and all agreements, and consulting on the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) and other movements' joining of the Juba Platform.
The chairman of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) alliance of rebel groups, Dr El Hadi Idris, told Radio Dabanga that the procedural session discussed how the negotiations will proceed in the coming days and it was agreed that the negotiations start with the tracks concerning Darfur, the Two Areas (Blue Nile state and South Kordofan), eastern Sudan, northern Sudan and central Sudan.
On the participation of other parties in the negotiations, especially the FFC, El Hadi said that the SRF retains at its position refusing the participation of the FFC in the negotiations, as the transitional government represents it, however, he returned to say that there are committees working to address this issue. He pointed out that the negotiations start today with the main issues.
Violations in Darfur 'put the peace process negotiations at stake' - Sudanese Revolutionary Front
Idris added from Juba that yesterday that during their meeting with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, the leaders of the SRF handed an official complaint about the ongoing violations and attacks in Darfur, the latest of which happened in Tawila on Tuesday.
"These violations put the peace process negotiations at stake," they stated and called on Salva Kiir to address this matter with the government.
The Darfur track is represented by the head of the Sudan Liberation Movement faction under the leadership of Minni Minawi (SLM-MM), the track of the Two Areas by Malik Agar, eastern Sudan by Osama Saeed, and the tracks of northern and central Sudan by El Tom Hajo.
El Hadi said that coordination mechanisms between the tracks and discussion on national issues will be created within the SRF.
Spokesman for the South Sudan mediation team, Minister of Energy and Dams Dhieu Mathok, announced the formation of a mini-committee for the provisions of coordination and follow-up of the negotiation process between Khartoum and the armed movements.
Other rebel groups joining the Juba peace talks platform in accordance with the Declaration of Principles agreement is under consideration.
Mathok said that the mediation had received requests from a number of armed and political movements to join the Juba platform.
He expected that the evening session would begin with talks between the government delegation and the delegation of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North led by Abdelaziz El Hilu.
Member of the government delegation, Mohamed El Faki, said told reporters that the discussion in the procedural session included discussing the rules organising the negotiation process, the implementation of the agreement that was made in the Juba Declaration by releasing prisoners, humanitarian work, and requesting the amendment of Article 70 of the Constitutional Document and that all the comprehensive peace agreements reached will be included in the Constitutional Document.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the head of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North faction leader, Abdelaziz El Hilu, expressed his movement's readiness to pick-up the negotiations form where the previous session left-off.
'We are optimistic that this coming round will achieve positive results towards a logical end to the peace process... ' - Abdelaziz El Hilu (SPLM-N)
"We are optimistic that this coming round will achieve positive results towards a logical end to the peace process... The government delegation was understanding and cooperative in the first round in spite of the complicated nature of the conflict."
El Hilu acknowledged: "The two parties face challenges with respect to conflicting demands from their constituencies."
In a joint statement from London, Oslo, and Washington, the Sudan Troika countries (UK, Norway and the USA) say that "the success of these talks will be critical in Sudan's journey towards ensuring lasting peace. The United States, the United Kingdom, and Norway welcome the resumption of these talks. It is our sincere hope that all interested stakeholders will join these talks and show a renewed spirit of cooperation, pragmatism, and realism to ensure these negotiations succeed. This is what the people of Sudan expect and deserve.
"For too long, internal conflict was waged at the expense of Sudan's most vulnerable people. Only lasting peace will ensure that the humanitarian and security needs of those in the areas affected by the conflicts can be met and for those marginalised areas to benefit from the changes ushered in by the creation of a civilian-led transitional government.
"We urge all sides to support the formation of the Transitional Legislative Assembly and appointment of civilian governors (known as walis) by the end of December 2019.
"We furthermore encourage all sides to come to the talks without pre-conditions. Progress in the talks will maintain confidence in building a stable, secure, democratic and inclusive Sudan where all Sudanese are equal. It is vital that all sides demonstrate the political will to work together, and engage productively, to find solutions to outstanding issues. If they do so they will have the support of the Troika," the joint statement concludes.