South Sudan to hold peace talks between Sudan and rebels

This new set of talks follow a first round in September when both sides agreed on a road map for negotiations
Sudanese Foreign Minister Ahmed al-Dierdiry speaks after a signing ceremony between South Sudan's government and rebels
Sudanese Foreign Minister Ahmed al-Dierdiry speaks after a signing ceremony between South Sudan’s government and rebels in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on July 6, 2018 after they agreed to withdraw troops from urban areas aiming to end a four-and-a-half year civil war. – The agreement comes days after South Sudanese arch-foes President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar agreed on a permanent ceasefire, raising hopes of an end to the conflict in the world’s youngest country. (Photo by Ebrahim Hamid / AFP)

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok will attend peace talks in the South Sudan capital Monday with rebel leaders from several Sudanese states, said official sources in Juba. “Tomorrow’s meeting is to mark the launching of Sudan’s peace talks,” Ateny Wek Ateny, spokesman for South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, told reporters Sunday.

Hamdok, who was only appointed in August in a deal between the army and the opposition, will meet rebel leaders from the Sudanese states of Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Kiir, who just a few weeks ago signed his own peace deal with rebel leader Riek Machar, offered to mediate between Sudan and the rebels back in November 2018.

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This new set of talks follow a first round in September when both sides agreed on a road map for the negotiations. This week’s meeting is intended to tackle the main issues, said Ateny.

Also attending will be Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who last week won the Nobel Peace Prize, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. Their presence, said Ateny, was to give the talks more weight.

A Sudanese official shows a sheet from a signed agreement after a signing ceremony between South Sudan's government and rebels
A Sudanese official shows a sheet from a signed agreement after a signing ceremony between South Sudan’s government and rebels in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on July 6, 2018 after they agreed to withdraw troops from urban areas aiming to end a four-and-a-half year civil war. – The agreement comes days after South Sudanese arch-foes President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar agreed on a permanent ceasefire, raising hopes of an end to the conflict in the world’s youngest country. (Photo by Ebrahim Hamid / AFP)

A senior Sudanese delegation arrived in Juba on Sunday. The Sudanese delegation will meet Abdulaziz al-Hilu, leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), which is active in Bule Nile and South Kordofan states. Al-Hilu will lead the rebel delegation.

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This new peace initiative comes after the fall of longtime Sudanese autocrat Omar al-Bashir, who was toppled from power by the Sudanese military in April.Prime Minister Hamdok has been tasked with leading Sudan back to civilian rule, but he has said he also wants to end the conflicts with the rebels.

Over the years, the rebels’ conflict with Khartoum have killed hundreds of thousands of people and forced millions to flee their homes.

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