By Deng Machol
Juba – South Sudan has offered to mediates’ peace talks between its northern neighbor Sudanese government and the [armed groups] SPLM/A – North in the Blue Nile, South Kordofan and Darfur conflict zones, just a few months after Khartoum mediated a peace deal for the world’s youngest nation warring parties.
Kiir’s government and South Sudan’s main rebel group signed a Khartoum – mediated peace deal on September 12, in an attempt to end the five years civil war that ravaged the country after 2013.
South Sudanese presidential adviser on security affairs, Tut Gatluak, unveiled that the Sudanese government and opposition groups have accepted Juba’s role to mediate the talks, which are expected to start next week.
South Sudan achieved her independence from Sudan in 2011, but the states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan – which both have large ethnic minority populations who fought alongside the south – were left north of the border.
The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), which had been part of Kiir’s SPLM, launched an insurgency against Khartoum in the two states that same year.
Gatluak said Kiir’s mediation will involve all rebel groups fighting Khartoum, including those in the Blue Nile, Southern Kordofan, and Darfur, which all whine of economic, social and political neglect by President Omar al-Bashir’s government.
“The oppositions have all accepted President Salva Kiir to be a mediator between them and the Khartoum government,” Gatluak told journalists on Monday. Adding that “next week, the delegations of Sudan and the delegations from the opposition groups in Sudan will be converging in Juba in order to come and begin peace talks.”
Earlier, Sudan has confirmed and accepted mediation by South Sudan’s leader in peace talks for the first time over the restive Sudanese border regions of South Kordofan and the Blue Nile.
“Peace is a strategic choice for the Sudanese government and accordingly the government has approved the mediation of South Sudan President Salva Kiir,” Ibrahim al-Sadiq quoted said on Sunday, saying South Sudanese President Salva Kiir had begun talks with factions from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) present in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile over a peace settlement.
Juba and Khartoum have traded allegation of harboring and supporting each other’s rebel elements in their territories, charges which both countries deny but relations between the former foes’ seem to be improving since Sudan successfully mediated the new peace deal aimed at ending almost five years of civil unrest in South Sudan.
Sudan has been battling rebels from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile states since 2011. Several rounds of peace talks have failed to end the conflict in the two areas bordering South Sudan.
The SPLM-N also has a loose alliance with rebels in Darfur, who have waged an older conflict since 2003 which the UN estimates have killed 300 000 people and displaced more than 2.5 million.
Sudanese officials say the conflict in Darfur has ended, but with media access restricted, reports of fighting there cannot be independently verified, where rebels have been fighting against President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s government since 2003.
Gatluak said it is vital for the two countries to help each other with peace mediation efforts and end rebellions.
“In order for the two states to be viable and in order for the two countries to continue enjoying some sort of prosperity, the wars with the oppositions in the two states have to stop,” Gatluak added.
The SPLM-North is demanding for a change of policies in Khartoum and popular consultation of the two areas. The SPLM-N has split into two factions, and one of its leaders, Malik Agar, welcomed the move to “unify the SPLM”, through his spokesperson Mubarak Ardol.
Sudan’s government has announced unilateral ceasefires in both regions as well as in Sudan’s troubled western region of Darfur since 2015 and fighting has subsided.