Sudan adjourns peace talks with holdout rebel faction

Sudan adjourns peace talks with holdout rebel faction for 'consultations'
2 min read
Sudan adjourned peace talks with a powerful rebel faction that refused to join opposition forces in signing a landmark peace deal last year.
Sudan adjourned peace talks [Getty]

Sudan Tuesday adjourned peace talks with a powerful rebel faction that refused to join opposition forces in signing a landmark peace deal last year, officials said, citing the need for further consultations.

On May 26, the Sudanese government restarted negotiations in Juba, South Sudan, with Abdelaziz al-Hilu, a veteran guerrilla fighter who leads a faction of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N). 

The SPLM-N is the main group which fought the government of now-ousted president Omar al-Bashir in the southern states of South Kordofan and the Blue Nile.  

"Mediators decided to adjourn today (Tuesday) the direct negotiation sessions between the transitional government and SPLM-N for further consultations over contentious issues," Sudan's ruling council said in a statement Tuesday. 

The Sudanese negotiators returned to Khartoum from South Sudan, it added. 

The council said that the two sides signed a "non-final framework document including their points of agreement and disagreement". 

The statement did not elaborate on what the sticking points were nor indicate when talks would resume.

This week, United Nations humanitarian agencies said they had gained access to areas controlled by Hilu's SPLM-N in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile states for the first time since 2011. 

The UN estimates around 800,000 people live in these areas and says they "have been struggling and surviving on little or nothing for a decade". 

Sudan has been pushing to end long-running conflicts under Bashir, who was ousted in April 2019 following mass protests against his rule. 

In October, Sudan's transitional government signed a landmark peace agreement with multiple key rebel groups from the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF).

Only two holdout groups including Hilu's SPLM-N faction led refused to sign the accord.

Hilu had long championed a secular state to replace the Islamist regime of Bashir. 

In September in a separate deal with Khartoum, Hilu agreed on a "cessation of hostilities", and that his forces would retain their guns for "self-protection" until Sudan's constitution was changed to separate religion and government.

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