Sudan-rebel peace talks begin

2014-02-14 07:32
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir shakes hands with his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir following a meeting in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, on 14 July, 2012. (Jenny Vaughn, AFP)

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir shakes hands with his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir following a meeting in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, on 14 July, 2012. (Jenny Vaughn, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Addis Ababa - The Sudanese government and rebels opened peace talks in Ethiopia on Thursday amid UN calls for a ceasefire to end three years of fighting that has affected over one million people.

The government said it was committed to ending the gruesome violence at the opening of the African Union-led negotiations in Addis Ababa, the first time the two sides have met since talks collapsed last April.

"We have come to this round of negotiations to achieve peace that would rescue our people from the plights of war and destruction," said the head of Khartoum's delegation, Ibrahim Ghandour.

But the rival Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) party questioned the government's sincerity, accusing them of aerial bombardments and blocking humanitarian assistance.

"There is a lot of rhetoric from Khartoum that they are for change. It will be tested today," SPLM-N chief negotiator Yassir Arman told AFP.

The chief mediator of the talks, former South African president Thabo Mbeki, said both sides "will stay in Addis Ababa until an agreement is reached."

The opening of the talks came as the UN urged the Sudanese government and rebels to declare an immediate ceasefire so aid can reach more than one million civilians.

"Both parties in these talks are urged to declare an immediate cessation of hostilities allowing humanitarian teams to provide much needed support to these areas," the head of the UN mission in Sudan, Ali Al-Za'tari, said in a statement.

As the two sides met in the Ethiopian capital, government bombing continued, said Ryan Boyette, founder of the Nuba Reports website based in South Kordofan.

Boyette said a Sukhoi jet dropped several bombs at a school on Thursday afternoon, and then several more near a watering point for animals.

War zones

"We don't bomb any civilian areas," army spokesperson Sawarmi Khaled Saad told AFP earlier Thursday, adding the military "will continue its job" until a ceasefire is reached.

There are no reliable figures for how many people have died in the Kordofan region and Blue Nile state, where the SPLM-N has been fighting for nearly three years, drawing support from among their non-Arab populations.

The UN says an estimated 1.2 million have been displaced or otherwise affected in the two areas which both lie on the South Sudan border.

Sudanese authorities have restricted access to the war zones for aid workers, journalists and foreign diplomats, although relief has reached people in government-controlled zones.

There has been no aid access into SPLM-N areas from within Sudan since 2011, and a senior UN official last year said people were surviving on roots and leaves.

"I urge both parties to ensure that the welfare of civilians in these states is an absolute priority during these talks," Za'tari said.

In the western Darfur region, another ethnic minority rebellion has dragged on for 11 years.

Insurgents there have joined the rebels from Kordofan and Blue Nile in a "Revolutionary Front", fuelled by complaints of economic and political neglect of their far-flung regions by the Arab-dominated regime in Khartoum, led by President Omar al-Bashir - who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Darfur.

SPLM-N spokesperson Arnu Ngutulu Lodi told AFP that Sudan's regions have been marginalised by an "elite" in Khartoum.

"We need to go to a more meaningful comprehensive settlement," he said late on Wednesday.

25-year-old regime

The Ethiopian talks come two weeks after Bashir appealed for a political and economic "renaissance," with peace as the top priority. He repeated an invitation he made over the past year for a broad political dialogue, including with the rebels.

But diplomats say there was also something new - acknowledgement by Bashir's 25-year-old regime of the country's ethnic diversity, even after the secession in 2011 of overwhelmingly non-Arab South Sudan.

The talks could be the start of a much broader national dialogue, drawing in opposition parties and other groups, to address discontent in outlying regions and ease pressure on a sanctions-hit, indebted economy starved of hard currency since South Sudan broke away with much of the country's oil reserves.

"The government, especially after the recent speech of the president, recognises that the first step to achieve the goals of the national consensus is to heal the wounds of the war," the pro-government Sudan Vision wrote in an editorial this week.

Read more on:    omar al-bashir  |  sudan  |  south sudan  |  east africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
When is a mountain more than just a mountain? 2014-12-18 07:26

When it’s an adventure! A group of Old Mutual employees found out how much is enough courage, endurance and camaraderie to take on Africa's highest peak.

/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

Christmas lingerie to make this festive season the best one ever!
13 things you might not know about Disneyland
The craziest deaths of 2014
How to make this a sensual, sexy summer!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is so much going on around you and inside your head. You may want to take your ideas to the next level. Romance may be...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.