January 11, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - Intergovernmental Authority on Deveopment (IGAD) Ambassador to Sudan announced Thursday the resumption of peace talks between the government and the Sudan Liberation Movement-North Abdel Aziz al-Hilu (SPLM-N al-Hilu) next February.
Lissane Yohannes, met with Sudanese presidential aide Ibrahim Mahmoud to discuss ways to re-energize peace talks to end the six-year conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states which are brokered by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP).
Speaking after the meeting Yohannes told reporters that Mahmoud expressed the government readiness to resume talks with the rebel SPLM-N al-Hilu.
The Ethiopian diplomat further said that he told the Sudanese official who is also the head of the government negotiating team about the willingness of the armed group to sit at the negotiating table with the government during the first week of February 2018.
He went to say that the first round of talks will be on a cessation of hostilities agreement followed by political negotiations.
The regional diplomat didn’t refer to the process led by the African Union or the roadmap agreement reached in March and August 2016, or the participation of Darfur groups or other political opposition forces in the process.
AUHIP chair Thabo Mbeki didn’t visit Khartoum since April 2017 where he was informed by the government of its readiness to resume discussion with the opposition groups on the basis of the outcome of the national dialogue conference.
Observers say the split of the SPLM-N into two groups one led by Malik Agar and the other by al-Hilu complicated the AUHIP efforts for a comprehensive process that requires homogeny and coordinated positions among the heterogenic opposition groups.
They add that al-Hilu call for self-determination reflects his determination to put the issue of the Nuba Mountains at the top of the agenda.
After the rift, the Sudanese government said ready to meet al-Hilu group considering it is the one controlling the armed group particularly in the Nuba Mountains but clearly rejected its demand to include the self-determination in the agenda of the talks.
The African Union panel and its chair the former South African President calls for a holistic approach to end Sudan’s conflicts. The armed and political opposition groups endorsed this concept after a meeting in Paris in August 2014.