Addis Ababa, 15 August 2016: From 9 to 14 August 2016, the AUHIP with the involvement of the Government of Ethiopia and the UNAMID Deputy Joint Special Representative/Mediator for Darfur and the UN Special Envoy for Sudan and South South Sudan, convened in Addis Ababa the Government of Sudan, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army–Minni Minawi (SLM/A-MM), the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement - North (SPLM-N) to negotiate a cessation of hostilities in the Two Areas of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, and in Darfur. 

Regrettably, despite one week of intensive engagements the Parties have failed to reach agreement, dashing the hopes and expectations of the long-suffering Sudanese people. The Panel believes that the Parties have allowed a real and critical opportunity to slip out of their hands.

On 8 August 2016, the SPLM-N, JEM, SLM-MM and the National Umma Party (NUP) signed the Roadmap Agreement of 21 March 2016. The African Union and the United Nations hailed this event as a significant milestone towards the realisation of a genuinely inclusive National Dialogue process.

In accordance with the Roadmap Agreement, the SPLM-N, on the Two Areas; and JEM and SLM/A-MM, on Darfur, immediately entered into parallel negotiations with the Government of Sudan on a cessation of hostilities and humanitarian assistance.

On Darfur, the obstacles arose when the armed movements, during the last session, re-opened numerous issues that had previously been agreed and others which contradicted the Roadmap Agreement. Although the facilitators presented balanced options, including on the sites where the armed movements would be located, and mechanisms for the monitoring of humanitarian assistance, the JEM and SLM-MM rejected the proposals.  

Consistent with relevant AU Peace and Security Council, and United Nations Security Council decisions, the Panel also maintained that the Parties should use the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) as the basis for their negotiations in Doha, without prejudicing the right of any party to introduce new concerns.

While the Government accepted those proposals, the introduction of new issues by the JEM and SLM-MM, inevitably broke the negotiations.   

On the Two Areas, the Parties were able to agree on all issues except on one element of humanitarian assistance, where the SPLM-N wanted to include a provision guaranteeing that limited assistance could be sourced through Asosa Ethiopia. The Government accepted that assistance could come from outside the country but should be channeled through ports of entry in government-held areas.

In the face of this impasse, the Panel proposed that the Government and the SPLM-N should entrust the provision of humanitarian assistance to the United Nations, and that the UN should be allowed to determine, on the basis of its assessment of the needs, the most efficient and cost-effective way to meet the humanitarian needs.

However, the GoS perceived the Panel’s proposal as inconsistent with its sovereign prerogatives, while the SPLM-N maintained its demand for the guarantee of limited humanitarian assistance through Ethiopia. The Panel appreciates the efforts the Government of Ethiopia exerted to bridge this difference, and their offers of reassurances and guarantees to the Parties on this matter. Unfortunately, these entreaties fell on deaf ears. 

The Panel is extremely concerned that the impasse in both tracks has stalled the momentum, hope and optimism generated across Sudan by the signing of the Roadmap Agreement, and has frozen the prospects for peace for the people of Darfur and the Two Areas.

The Panel strongly urges each Party to reconsider any position that has impeded progress on the implementation of the Roadmap Agreement to which they are committed. The Panel will await a demonstration of leadership and vision from the Parties, convinced that the process of the Roadmap, of which a cessation of hostilities is a first step, holds the strongest hope for achieving the stability and democratic transformation of Sudan. 

Posted by Kodjo Tchioffo

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