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Sudan’s peace talks with SPLM-N al-Hilu suspended until Saturday

South Sudan's Presidential Adviser for Security Affairs and Chairman of the Mediation Team, Tut Kew Gatluak (Sovereign Council photo)
December 12, 2019 (JUBA) - The mediation team in South Sudan said Thursday that negotiations between the Sudanese government and the SPLM-North led by Abdel Aziz al-Hilu will be suspended until Saturday for technical reasons.

The SPLM-N al-Hilu hold separate talks with the Sudanese government and refused calls by Malik Agar’s faction for a joint delegation as the two groups would negotiate the issues of the Two Areas: Blue Nile State and South Kordofan State.

Last month, the discussions on the declaration of principles stalled over the demand of the SPLM-N al-Hilu to include the self-determination and secular state in the peace talks. But the government argued that they have no mandate to discuss a matter that would be resolved by the constitutional conference after the peace agreement.

South Sudan’s Presidential Adviser for Security Affairs and Chairman of the Mediation Team, Tut Kew Gatluak said that the meetings that "started on Thursday will be suspended until Saturday for technical issues that have not been completed."

Tut did not elaborate on the nature of this technical issue but it seems related to the drafting of new proposals on the pending issues.

He further stressed the commitment of the mediation and all parties to work for an agreement that would achieve peace and stability in Sudan.

In separate statements on Thursday, the spokesman for the government delegation, and member of the Sovereign Council Mohamed Hassan Eltaishi spoke about "great progress" in the ongoing negotiations with the SPLM-N al-Hilu.

Eltaishi said that a committee is currently working on finalizing a framework agreement on the Two Areas.

He further added that significant progress in security and technical arrangements has been achieved as well as on the political issues.

There were unverified reports about new developments in the position of the SPLM-N al-Hilu which broke away with the other faction of Malik Agar after a row over self-determination during the talks with the ousted Islamist regime.

The transitional government which is formed after the collapse of the al-Bashir regime has reaffirmed its commitment to work for justice and equality between the Sudanese without discrimination on the basis of their religion or ethnic group.

The relation between the state and religion is one of the issues that would be discussed in a constitutional conference to take place after the signing of peace agreements with the armed groups in the Two Areas and Darfur as well as the eastern Sudan opposition groups which call for more autonomy and wealth sharing.