South Sudan peace talks resume

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iol pic afr sudan kordofan AFP Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir (R) meets with former South African president Thabo Mbeki (2nd L) in Khartoum on February 25, 2014. The African Union chief mediator visits the Sudanese capital to help push peace efforts between Khartoum and South Kordofan rebels. Picture: ASHRAF-SHAZLY

Ethiopia - Sudan's government and rebel teams met in Ethiopia on Tuesday to restart the latest round of slow moving talks aimed at brokering peace in war-torn South Kordofan and Blue Nile, delegates said.

Talks, which broke off last month without result, reopened on Tuesday with rebels saying they were doubtful of any swift progress.

“We are in consultations,” rebel delegation chief Yassir Arman told AFP, who along with other leaders was sentenced to death in absentia last month.

“We need a credible process that will transition Sudan from war to peace, and from dictatorship to democracy,” Arman said after meeting with African Union mediators.

Over one million people have been affected by more than three years of war in Sudan's southern states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan, according to the United Nations.

Fighting broke out shortly before South Sudan split from Sudan in 2011, as former rebels from the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) took up arms again.

Like the 11-year-old insurgency in western Sudan's Darfur region, the war has been fuelled by complaints among non-Arab groups of neglect and discrimination by the Arab-dominated regime.

“We are always optimistic but we are cautious, knowing Khartoum,” Arman added.

The AU has set an April 30 deadline for a deal, but has not threatened punishments and few expect any swift resolution, with the two sides yet to agree even on the topics of the talks.

Khartoum has insisted the talks should focus on security, political and humanitarian aspects as one package, while the rebels have said humanitarian issues should be addressed first.

The United Nations has called for an urgent ceasefire and has asked both sides to allow in aid. - AFP


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