August 26, 2017 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s negotiating team Saturday disclosed that informal contacts are underway with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North led by Abdel-Aziz al-Hilu (SPLMN/al-Hilu).
The SPLM-N is now divided into two factions: one in the Nuba Mountains led by al-Hilu and the other in the White Nile State led by Malik Agar. The rift emerged several months ago over the right of self-determination and other issues.
The semi-official Sudan Media Center (SMC) Saturday quoted the spokesperson of the government negotiating team Hussein Hamdi as saying contacts with al-Hilu would pave the road to resume talks after the Eid al-Adha vacation.
He pointed that al-Hilu has shown good faith by declaring a six-month unilateral ceasefire, describing the upcoming meeting of the African mediation with al-Hilu as “new shift” after the recent rift within the SPLM-N.
By the end of July, al-Hilu declared a unilateral six months cessation of hostilities starting from 31 July 2017 up to 31 Jan 2018.
For his part, Bushara Guma’a Aror, member of the government negotiating team, said the new reality indicates that the peace talks would be held with the “new leadership” (i.e. al-Hilu).
He pointed out that the “old leadership” (i.e. Agar) of the SPLM-N was not keen to end the suffering of the people in the Two Areas.
The head of the African Union office in Khartoum Mahmoud Kan said on Wednesday that an expert-level meeting with the SPLM-N al-Hilu will be held in Addis Ababa on 28 August.
The rebel delegation is expected to brief the AU mediation team about the shift in the group and to present its position on the peace process.
Last April, the Nuba Mountains Liberation Council (NMLC), which led the rift in the SPLM-N, said the group decided to freeze negotiations for peace in Sudan until the settlement of internal divisions.
The other SPLM-N faction led by Agar says ready for talks only on a humanitarian assistance agreement to provide civilians in the rebel held areas with the needed food and medicines.
The Sudanese army has been fighting the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) rebels in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan, also known as the Two Areas since 2011.