By Mohammed Amin
Peace talks between the Sudanese government and rebel groups are set to resume later this month following an almost yearlong hiatus, Sudanese chief negotiator Ibrahim Mahmoud announced Thursday.
Talks between Khartoum on one hand and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM/N) and Darfurian rebel groups on the other broke down last August in the absence of any significant breakthroughs.
After a meeting with former South African President Thabo Mbeki, who now serves as chairman of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel, Mahmoud said Khartoum was prepared to begin a fresh round of talks later this month.
Addressing reporters in the Sudanese capital, Mahmoud said the government was awaiting results of its recent contacts with rebel groups to begin direct negotiations.
“We hope to launch a new round of talks in late April,” he said. “We are currently awaiting a response to our overtures by the SPLM/N and the Darfur rebel groups.”
Nevertheless, the Sudanese peace process remains beset by a host of obstacles.
For example, the SPLM/N and the government remain in dispute over proposals for a “humanitarian corridor” through which aid might be delivered to rebel-held areas of Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
The two sides also remain in dispute over a refusal by rebel groups to dissolve their respective fighting forces.
The warring camps recently implemented a raft of confidence-building measures in hopes of paving the way for renewed peace talks, including a six-month ceasefire and a prisoner swap.
Twelve previous rounds of peace talks failed to achieve any tangible breakthroughs.