- SPLM-N Secretary General speaking at the Eldorado Book center in Oslo, Norway, on 10 January 2017 (ST)
January 10, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) Tuesday denied that arrangements are underway to hold a meeting between the government and the armed groups in Paris or elsewhere in Europe accusing Khartoum of seeking to impede unity of the opposition forces.
On Monday, Sudan’s Information Minister Ahmed Balal Osman disclosed an American initiative to hold a meeting between his government and the armed groups in France this week.
He told reporters that the informal consultations meeting may take place on 15-16 January in Paris.
However, SPLM-N Secretary General Yasser Arman on Tuesday told Sudan Tribune that there are no arrangements to hold such a meeting on 15 or 20 January, stressing they wouldn’t engage in any political talks with the government.
He renewed his movement’s declared position that it would only engage in talks on humanitarian issues, reiterating the SPLM-N refusal to resume political talks.
“We know that President Mbeki would address the African Union Peace and Security Council and we have nothing to do with that [because] these arrangements pertain to the African Union,” he said.
He criticized Sudan’s Information Minister, saying “he doesn’t have information even about what his own government is doing”.
Last August, Sudanese government and armed groups in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states failed to reach two agreements on cessation of hostilities and humanitarian access, seen as important step before to engage in political talks ahead of an inclusive constitutional conference.
The armed movements involved in the African Union mediated negotiations are the SPLM-N, Sudan Liberation Movement–Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM), Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).
CLASHES IN BLUE NILE
Meanwhile, Arman pointed to the government attack against SPLM-N positions in the Blue Nile state, saying “clashes still ongoing in the area”.
On Monday, SPLM-N accused the Sudanese government forces of attacking its positions in the Blue Nile State.
“Today 9th of Jan 2017 at 6:00 am, National congress party (NCP) forces and militias in Blue Nile region attacked SPLM/N controlled area of Arum,” said Arnu Nugultu Lodi, the SPLM-N spokesperson on Monday.
Last June, Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir declared a four-month unilateral cessation of hostilities in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan states. On December 31st he extended of the ceasefire for one month.
Also, SPLM-N, SLM-MM and JEM in October 2016 extended for six months the unilateral cessation of hostilities in Darfur, Blue Nile and south Kordofan they declared in October 2015 and April of this year.
The Sudanese army has been fighting the SPLM-N rebels in Blue Nile and South Kordofan, also known as “Two Areas” since 2011 and a group of armed movements in Darfur since 2003.
MEETING WITH BRITISH OFFICIALS
In a related context, Arman pointed to recent statements by the British Ambassador to Khartoum Michael Aron about the recent meetings between his government and the SPLM-N.
Speaking to the press in the capital of South Darfur Nyala, Aron Monday said that his government last week in a meeting held in London had discussed the Roadmap Agreement implementation with the SPLM-N Secretary General, adding that Sudanese people would hear good news soon.
Arman said the meeting with the British officials discussed the American humanitarian initiative laid out by the US Special Envoy Donald Booth last November, pointing they received the initiative in December and would respond to it on January 13.
“We are ready to meet with the American and British officials and we wouldn’t meet with the [Sudanese] government and this is what we said to the British and American governments and we will say it to the Norway government in our meeting with it today” he said.
UNITY OF OPPOSITION
The rebel leader renewed his movement’s call to unify the opposition forces and escalate the mass action to topple the regime, saying the regime is not keen to reach peace and democratic transformation through dialogue.
“We would press ahead with the [implementation] of the programme to unify the opposition … the regime is ruined and bankrupt and the Sudanese people must get ready to overthrow it and shouldn’t expect any solutions from al-Bashir and his regime” he said
It is noteworthy that the Leadership Council of the opposition umbrella Sudan Call would meet from 15 to 20 January. Also, contacts are ongoing to unify the two factions of the rebel umbrella Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF).
Also, the SPLM-N recently held meetings with the Broad National Front (BNF) and the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) within the framework of establishing a unified center for the opposition to topple the regime.