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Sudan peace talks suspended after accusations of fresh attacks in South Kordofan

Abdel Aziz al-Hilu flanked by SPLA-N military leaders in the Nuba Mountains on 8 July 2017 (ST Photo)
October 16, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - Talks for peace between the transitional government and the SPLM-N led by Abdel Aziz al-Hilu have been adjourned for 24 hours after accusation of fresh attacks by government forces in South Kordofan

In a statement released on Wednesday, the SPLM-N al-Hilu accused the Rapid Support Forces of ambushing civilians in the rebel-controlled area of Khor Warl in South Kordofan and arresting 13 people with their goods on 15 October.

The SPLM-N al-Hilu pointed to the involvement of local elements of Hawazmeh tribe in the clashes and requested Khartoum to renew its commitment to the unilateral cessation of hostilities.

The Movement would only begin negotiations after "the issuance of a solemn declaration of cessation of hostilities by the government, the release of the held detainees, their handover to the SPLM and the immediate withdrawal (of the government forces) from the areas it controlled."

In response to this demand, the head of Sudan’s Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan ordered the armed forces to cease fire across the country, to allow the resumption of the talks.

"We declare a ceasefire throughout the Republic of Sudan, and on all fronts and names, as of the date of the decision," said al-Burhan in a statement released on Wednesday.

Transitional government and SPLM-N al-Hilu were due to start direct peace talks in Juba on Wednesday when the latter announced the suspension of the talks to protest the recent violence in South Kordofan.

For his part, the spokesman for the government negotiating delegation, Mohamed al-Hassan Eltaishi, said that "unfortunate events" prevented a meeting with the SPLM-N, led by Abdel Aziz al-Hilu, to discuss the agenda of peace negotiations.

" (...) A conflict erupted during the past two days between armed pastoralists and some traders in areas controlled by the SPLM in the state of South Kordofan," he further said.

Eltaishi expressed the government’s condemnation of the incident and stressed that it would prosecute the perpetrators and hold them accountable under the law.

"What happened should be a motivation to move forward in the path of peace to end the fighting forever," he further stressed.

He reiterated that the Sudanese government is ready for discussion on all issues.

Later, the South Sudanese mediation team issued a statement announcing the adjournment of the meetings for 24 hours.

"The postponement was decided because of the protest by the SPLM against the Sudanese government which was accused of violating the ceasefire in an incident that took place in Khor Warl area in South Kordofan."

The mediation added it would hold further consultations with the parties to address the matter.

The Sudanese army and the SPLM-N have declared since three years ago a unilateral cessation of hostilities they used to renew regularly.