Sudan PM to join Juba peace talks


New Sudan Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok will head to South Sudan for peace talks between the ruling sovereign council and rebel leaders, the information minister said.

Faisal Saleh told reporters after the cabinet’s first meeting Hamdok, in his first foreign visit, would join five members of the ruling sovereign council in the South Sudanese capital Juba.

Sudan’s transitional government made peace-making with rebels fighting Khartoum a main priority as a key condition for the country’s removal from the United States’ sponsors of terrorism list.

Thousands of people died in Sudan’s civil wars, including the conflict in western Darfur, where rebels fought against then-President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s government since 2003.

Darfur’s war pits local rebel groups drawn largely from African farming tribes complaining about neglect against government forces in a conflict that displaced about 2,5 million people.

Fighting in Darfur has subsided over the past four years where the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and factions of the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) are active, but skirmishes persist.

JEM leader Jibril Ibrahim and the SLA faction headed by Minni Minawi are present at the Juba talks while Abdel Wahid el-Nur’s faction is absent, officials and rebel sources said.

Rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) in South Kordofan and Blue Nile largely committed to a ceasefire over the past two years. They have been fighting Khartoum’s rule since ending up on the Sudanese side of the border when South Sudan seceded in 2011.

Both factions, headed by Malik Agar and Abdelaziz al-Hilu, are at the talks.