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No Progress in Sudan and SPLM-North Talks


A first round of mediated peace talks between Sudan and the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement - North has ended without an agreement. Talks are centered on politics, security and providing humanitarian aid to Sudan's South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

Negotiators from the Sudanese government and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement-North, SPLM-N, have made no progress on humanitarian aid, political and security matters.

Talks mediated by the African Union ended Friday night after the two delegations held three meetings since Tuesday in Addis Ababa.

Secretary-general of the SPLM-North Yassir Arman says no progress was made.

“We reached no agreement, the gap is wide, the SPLM-N priority remains humanitarian situation as well as we are ready to discuss the political situation,” he said.

It is the first time since June 2011 that the parties are holding discussions. But the SPLM-N accuses the Sudanese government of blocking delivery of humanitarian aid to South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

Ibrahim Ghandour, chief negotiator for the Sudanese government, blames the SPLM-N for the lack of progress.

"We were coming to discuss three issues, humanitarian issues, security arrangements and political arrangements, but unfortunately the other side proposed a new agreement, which will take weeks and weeks to be discussed. During that period people will suffer. We don’t want those sufferings," said Ghandour.

The SPLM-N rebels fought on the side of the South Sudanese when they were fighting for independence. Sudan and South Sudan split in July 2011, but armed clashes between the SPLM-N and Sudan continued. The violence in the states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile created a humanitarian crisis that displaced almost one million people.

Sudan has accused the South Sudanese government of backing the SPLM-N. But as the two neighboring countries are improving their diplomatic ties and have signed multiple agreements on economic, security and political matters, Sudan agreed to talk to the SPLM-N.

Ghandour says the agreements between Sudan and South Sudan can still be implemented and should not be delayed because of a lack of an agreement with the SPLM-N.

"That agreement is between two countries, unless SPLM-North deters or prevents or make the agreements difficult to implement, Sudanese government is ready to implement whatever we agreed with the South and I think the same will is on the side of the government of South Sudan," said Ghandour.

Secretary-general of the SPLM-North Yassir Arman says the signed agreements between Sudan and South Sudan can only work if the SPLM-N is included because it controls 40 percent of the border.

“The presence of the Sudan government is theoretical, they are not there," he said. "We need to be part of this process, because by the end of the day, if you want to put a solid buffer zone, the only way is to cooperate with the SPLM-N.”

The African Union will have to decide when the next round of talks will take place between the Sudanese government and the SPLM-N.
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