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Sudan says awaiting African mediation invitation to resume Two Areas talks

October 6, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese government has renewed commitment to achieve peace in the Two Areas expressing readiness to respond to any invitation from the African mediation to resume talks with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N).

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Mbeki speaks to participants at the inaugral session of Strategic Consultations Meeting in Addis Ababa on 18 March 2016 (AUHIP Photo)

The Sudanese army has been fighting the SPLM-N rebels in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan, also known as the Two Areas since 2011.

Member of the government negotiating team for the Two Areas talks Al-Hadi Osman Andu said the government acceptance of the recent United Nations proposal to deliver humanitarian aid to rebel-held areas would enhance chances to revive peace talks.

He called on the SPLM-N to listen to the voices of the Two Areas residents and appreciate their sufferings which have continued for three decades, describing the government acceptance of the UN proposal as “positive qualitative leap”.

Andu denied that the African mediation has set any date to resume the peace talks, saying the government would accept an invitation in this regard.

Last month, the Sudanese government agreed to a UN initiative to deliver humanitarian assistance to civilians in the rebel-controlled areas in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states.

The SPLM-N is now divided into two factions: one led by Abdel Aziz al-Hilu and the other led by Malik Agar. The rift emerged last year over the right of self-determination and other organisational issues.

Talks between the Sudanese government and the SPLM-N for a cessation of hostilities and humanitarian access are stalled since August 2016.

The SPLM-N demands to deliver 20% of the humanitarian assistance through a humanitarian corridor from Asosa, an Ethiopian border town.

But the government rejects the idea saying it is a breach of the state sovereignty and a manoeuvre from the rebels to bring arms and ammunition to their locked rebel-held areas in the Two Areas.

The SPLM-N, in November 2016 declined an American proposal to transport humanitarian medical assistance directly to the civilians in the rebel-held areas in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

Also, during the last round of talks from 1 to 3 February, the Sudanese government and SPLM-N al-Hilu failed to reach a cessation of hostilities agreement.

The mediation delinked the ceasefire and the humanitarian access and focused at this round only on the cessation of hostilities agreement.

However, differences between the sides emerged when Khartoum proposed that the cessation of hostilities be a step towards a permanent ceasefire and humanitarian access.