Sunday, December 5, 2021

Sudan Tribune

Plural news and views on Sudan

Sudan rebels say no deal until disputed areas solved

NAIROBI, Jan 17 (Reuters) – South Sudanese rebels negotiating with the government on how to end more than 20 years of civil war said today there could be no final peace agreement until the status of three disputed areas was resolved.

Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the Sudanese President, said on Tuesday the Kenya-hosted peace talks were not mandated to discuss the three disputed areas – Nuba Mountains, Southern Blue Nile and Abyei, potentially raising a major obstacle to a peace deal.

However, Yasir Arman, a spokesperson for the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), said talks on the disputed areas were continuing in Kenya and a resolution was essential.

“There will be no (final) agreement unless there is a full agreement on the three areas,” Arman told reporters. “The three areas are an important component to the peace in Sudan. It is the reason we have been fighting for 20 years.”

He said the two top negotiators, Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, the First Vice President, and John Garang, the rebel leader, were discussing the three disputed areas today, aiming to clear the matter before they move to the next outstanding issue of power sharing.

“The principals (Garang and Taha) are not here on a political picnic. They are doing a real job to resolve the three areas and power sharing,” Arman said, adding that the SPLA believed the dispute over the three areas was surmountable.

“It is not any more difficult than the wealth sharing or the security issues.

The same determination will see us through,” he said, referring to important accords signed by the two parties.There was no immediate comment from government officials. Several senior members of the SPLA come from the disputed areas, which are currently part of the north.

The war, in which two million people have been killed and four million displaced, has pitted the Islamist government in the north against rebels seeking greater autonomy in the mainly animist and Christian south.

In July 2002 the sides reached a deal granting the south a referendum on secession after a six-year interim period that begins after combatants agree a final accord. Under the deal Islamic sharia law would apply to the north but not the south.

Yesterday, John Danforth, President George W. Bush’s special envoy to Sudan, played down concerns over Bashir’s statement and said the parties were within reach of a final agreement.

The US says Sudan is a foreign policy priority for Bush and that Washington would commit itself to help ensure any peace agreement would be implemented effectively.