Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Sudan’s former foes in crisis talks to rescue deal

The two sides in Sudan’s national coalition meet on Thursday to try to salvage their fragile peace deal after disenchanted former southern rebels walked out of the government.

President Omar Hassan al-Bashir will meet First Vice-President Salva Kiir, chairperson of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), in Khartoum for the highest-level talks between the two sides since the SPLM suspension last week.

The SPLM’s move followed months of stalemate on key elements of the landmark 2005 peace deal, including redeployment of northern troops from southern oilfields, mapping the borders of the oil-rich Abyei region, demarcating the north-south border and constitutional violations such as hundreds of political prisoners being held in northern jails.

”We are looking for the implementation of the agreement and we hope the meeting between the president and the first vice-president will reach a conclusion to that effect,” said Yasir Arman, SPLM deputy secretary general.

Bashir approved a Cabinet reshuffle after a three-month delay on Wednesday, one of the SPLM demands, but southern officials said it was not as Kiir wanted, with two presidential advisers lacking.

They added that Bashir was also asked not to reshuffle the Cabinet until after his meeting with Kiir, who wanted to discuss it and finalise it with him.

”Kiir owes it to south Sudanese to reject the reshuffle unless it’s as he proposed,” said an editorial in the Citizen, an English-language newspaper.

”It would set a wrong precedent. It would mean that the NCP [Bashir’s National Congress Party] can violate any other protocols of the agreement and get away with it.”

Strained relations

While both sides have insisted they do not want a return to war, relations have been strained by the move. Bashir met SPLM vice-chairman Riek Machar and a high-level team on Tuesday after making them wait two days in Khartoum.

Before the meeting, presidential security guards said Arman’s name was not on the list and made the delegation move from four cars into two before allowing them to enter.

The SPLM and local media reported demonstrations throughout southern Sudanese towns in support of the SPLM move.

The international community has remained largely quiet and privately worried by the move, the biggest challenge to the 2005 accord, which ended Africa’s longest civil war.

The SPLM has given the NCP until January 9, the third anniversary of the deal, to show progress on outstanding issues.

Officials say the reshuffle itself it not enough for the SPLM to return to its posts in the Cabinet, where it accounts for more than a quarter of members.

”The [deal] is not about ministerial jobs. It is about addressing the root causes of the war. If we don’t address the root causes of the war they will always come back,” said Arman.

The SPLM’s action has the support of many southerners.

”The walkout must continue until the NCP demonstrates that it is willing to move forward in one or two more points,” said the independent daily Khartoum Monitor in an editorial, under the headline ”Bravo SPLM.”

Sudan’s north-south conflict cost two million lives and more than four million were driven from their homes. — Reuters

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

Basic web lessons for South Africa: Government hacks point to...

Recent cyberattacks at the department of justice and the space agency highlight the extent of our naïveté

‘The children cannot cope any more’: Suicide in Calvinia highlights...

How Covid-19 has intensified the physical and emotional burdens placed on children’s shoulders.

More top stories

Sisters pave the way with ecobricks

The durable bricks are made from 30% recycled plastic, some of which they collect from a network of 50 waste pickers

If the inflation-driving supply strain in the US lasts, it...

In South Africa, a strong trade surplus, buoyed by robust commodity prices, will cushion our economy against pressure arising from US policy

Farmers squeezed by big retailers

It may be beneficial for consumers when supermarkets push to get the lowest price from suppliers, but it can harm the farmers

Covid-19: No vaccine booster shots needed yet

Scientists agree it is important to get most of the population vaccinated before giving booster jabs

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…