Sudan: Peace Talks - Govt Accepts Possibility of Self-Determination

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdak addressing members of the Sudanese diaspora in Washington, DC

Juba — Yesterday evening, the first session of direct peace talks between the Sudanese government and rebel movements started in Juba, capital of South Sudan. The discussion focussed on central Sudan. In a separate meeting, Khartoum and the SPLM-N faction led by Abdelaziz El Hilu agreed to form a joint team to study its demands for self-determination and a secular state.

El Tom Hajo, representative of the Sudan Revolutionary Front rebel alliance, and responsible for the negotiations concerning the central and northern Sudan tracks, said in the press conference after the session, that it was agreed that the central Sudan track team will provide a detailed vision on the basic issues concerning Sennar, White Nile state, El Gezira, and Khartoum to the government delegation within 48 hours.

The team will also present a number of demands, including a reconstruction fund, the review of land laws, debt forgiveness for the farmers in the region, and the return of embezzled property from the El Gezira and El Managil Agricultural Scheme, he added.

Self-determination

Tut Galwak, head of the South Sudanese mediation team, announced a breakthrough between the government delegation and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North under the leadership of Abdelaziz El Hilu (SPLM-N El Hilu) that has been fighting the government of ousted President Omar Al Bashir in South Kordofan.

Galwak reported at the press conference that the two sides agreed to form a separate committee that will present proposals on the right to self-determination and a secular state, as these two files are among the most complex negotiation issues.

The joint committee will also formulate mutual principles based on the initial agreement signed by the two parties in mid-October.

Ammar Daldoum, chairman of the SPLM-N El Hilu negotiation team, said that the right to self-determination forms his movement's "negotiation ceiling", in case the principle of secularism for the state of South Kordofan is rejected.

"The current peace talks aim to reach an integrated formula on a Sudanese state model capable of achieving peace, justice, and peaceful co-existence among all components of the Sudanese society." - Mohamed El Taayshi

'Great progress'

Mohamed El Taayshi, member of Sudan's Sovereign Council and spokesman for the government delegation, confirmed that "great progress" has been made in the negotiations with the rebel faction of Abdelaziz El Hilu.

He said that a committee is currently working on finalising a framework agreement on the Two Areas (South Kordofan and Blue Nile state).

El Taayshi stressed that "there are no fundamental obstacles or differences on the issues raised in the various negotiation rooms".

He also reported "significant progress" concerning security and technical arrangements negotiated in parallel with the political tracks.

"The current peace talks aim to reach an integrated formula on a Sudanese state model capable of achieving peace, justice, and peaceful co-existence among all components of the Sudanese society," the Sovereign Council member explained. "Achieving peace does not mean that those who did not join the negotiations are not part of the peace process".

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.

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