Peace talks between key rebel groups and the Sudanese government hit an obstacle when a group said it will not sit down for talks with Khartoum until its demands are met.
The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, a rebel group Blue Nile and South Kordofan, accused Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF), its most powerful paramilitary group, of occupying new areas and attacking and arresting traders.
In a press conference in Juba, SPLM-N chief negotiator Ammar Amoun said his group’s preconditions for returning to the negotiating table include release of all prisoners, withdrawal of government forces and a halt to all hostilities.
“If government meets these demands, we are ready to come back to the table with the commitment we declared during the Juba Declaration”, Amoun said.
The Sudanese government denied the accusations and said it was willing to investigate.
“Government is shocked,” said spokesman Mohammed Hassan Eltaishi. “Government is ready to investigate those behind the attack and will bring them to justice. This incident should not be a big obstacle to peace negotiations”.
Sudan’s ruling council and rebel leaders resumed talks on Monday to end the country’s multiple conflicts, a key condition for its removal from the United States’ sponsors of terrorism list.
Mediators said in a statement on Wednesday talks were postponed to “to resolve this misunderstanding.”
The council, a transitional government, has made peace talks with rebels fighting Khartoum a priority.
Being designated a state sponsor of terrorism cuts Sudan off from debt relief and financing from lenders including the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Removal from the list potentially opens the door for foreign investment.