KHARTOUM, Aug 25 (Reuters) – Sudan’s government and rebels made some progress on power-sharing in their latest peace talks, raising hopes over the largely deadlocked bid to end a 20-year war, a government negotiator was quoted as saying on Monday.
But rebels played down reports of progress, accusing the government of attempting to derail the peace process by trying to sideline agreements made at earlier rounds of talks.
The latest session of negotiations between the government and southern rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) ended on Saturday after hitting an impasse. Talks are due to resume in Kenya on September 10.
Sid al-Khatib, spokesman for the government delegation, said Khartoum was optimistic about the next push to solve a conflict which has killed two million people in Africa’s largest country.
“The two sides to the talks… managed to reach an agreement on some of the secondary issues concerning the division of power,” the privately owned Akhbar al-Youm newspaper quoted Khatib as saying.
“We are hopeful for a successful round of forthcoming talks,” said Khatib, who returned to Khartoum with the delegation on Sunday.
The rebels and the government reached an outline agreement more than a year ago under which southern Sudanese would vote in a referendum on secession after a six-year transition. But they have since been unable to agree on several issues, including how to share power and wealth.
Khatib said the two sides had agreed on the “formation of a national unity government” during the last three days of the latest round of talks. The negotiations hit an impasse last week over mediators’ proposals — opposed by Khartoum.
The SPLA accused Khartoum of going back on earlier draft agreements, hindering progress at the negotiations.
“It is true that no meaningful progress was made in the last talks mainly due to procedural matters which were deliberately created by Khartoum to derail the peace process,” SPLA spokesman Samson Kwaje said in a statement.
The civil war erupted in 1983 and pits the Islamic government in the north against rebels seeking more autonomy in the south, where Christianity and animist beliefs dominate.