Sudan peace talks resume after deadlock

A member of Sudan's alliance of opposition and protest groups wears the national flag as he chants slogans outside Sudan's Central Bank during the second day of the civil disobedience campaign. Photograph:( Reuters )

Juba, South Sudan Oct 18, 2019, 07.23 PM (IST)

Peace talks between the Sudanese government and rebels resumed Friday in neighbouring South Sudan after a rocky start saw one of the main groups threaten to pull out, accusing government forces of bombing its territory.

Officials from all sides said that Khartoum, and the two umbrella groups of rebels they are negotiating with, have managed to pin down a partial agenda for discussions.

Mohammed Hassan Alteishi, spokesman for the Sudanese government delegation, told journalists that parties would start discussions on "political issues... humanitarian issues, and security arrangements."

The talks between the new government in Khartoum and rebels who fought now-ousted president Omar al-Bashir's forces in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan states, are being mediated by South Sudan -- a former foe still struggling to end its war.

They were launched on Monday by South Sudan's President Salva Kiir -- who volunteered to mediate -- backed by regional leaders including Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

However, the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) on Wednesday threatened to pull out unless the government withdrew from an area in the Nuba mountains where it said government attacks were ongoing.

Hours later Khartoum announced a "permanent ceasefire" in the three conflict zones. 

An unofficial ceasefire had been in place since Bashir was ousted by the army in April in a palace coup following nationwide protests against his decades-old rule.

SPLM-N secretary general Amar Amon agreed Thursday to return to the negotiating table.

"We have been following the situation on the ground and we have seen the government of Khartoum made some steps which we regarded as positive towards addressing all those issues," he said, adding that some work remained to be done.

The rebel group's spokesman described the initial agreement on agenda points as "a great achievement".

Story highlights

The talks between the new government in Khartoum and rebels who fought now-ousted president Omar al-Bashir's forces in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan states, are being mediated by South Sudan -- a former foe still struggling to end its war