NAIROBI, Aug 23 (AFP) — Peace talks between the Sudanese government and southern rebels adjourned after delegates asked for time to consult with their leaders, mediators and a rebel spokesman said.
The delegations representing Khartoum and the southern rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) agreed to suspend the talks until September 10, mediators of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) said in a statement on Saturday.
“After a series of engagements through consultations and direct talks, the parties asked for an adjournment in order to consult further with their principals,” said a statement from IGAD, which groups Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda and, nominally, Somalia.
The latest round of the talks, which opened on August 11 in the central Kenyan town of Nanyuki, focused on how to share power and resources during a six-year interim period of self-rule for southern Sudan.
During that round, Khartoum maintained its objection to a draft document unveiled by IGAD, saying it provided for measures that would ultimately lead to the secession of southern Sudan, the independent Al-Rai Al-Aam newspaper of Khartoum reported on Friday.
A spokesman for the SPLA said the government delegation asked for a two-week adjournment in order to consult with Khartoum on the IGAD-proposed final settlement.
“The government side asked for adjournment of the talks in order to consult with President Omar el-Beshir over the IGAD draft document,” SPLA deputy spokesman George Garang told AFP by telephone.
Garang said that the two parties “never negotiated anything” during the latest round of the talks.
“The SPLA still maintained its support for the IGAD-drafted framework while the government refused to accept it as a basis of negotiations,” he said.
Khartoum and the SPLA struck a breakthrough accord in July 2002 granting the south the right to self-determination after a six-year transition period and exempting this mainly Christian and animist region from Islamic laws.
The conflict in Sudan has claimed at least 1.5 million lives and, along with intervals of war-induced famine, displaced four million people.
Khartoum and the rebels are wrangling on how power is to be be shared during the interim period.
The last round of talks in Nakuru, Kenya broke down last month when the government