Sudan’s transitional ruling council-initiated peace talks with rebel leaders on Monday to end the country’s civil wars, which is a key condition for the country’s removal from the United States’ sponsors of terrorism list. South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has arranged for the peace talks in Juba.
Notably, thousands of people have been killed in Sudan’s civil wars, including the conflict in the western Darfur region, where rebels have been fighting the government since 2003.
The ruling council has made peace-making with rebel groups fighting Khartoum one of its main priorities. Being listed in Washington’s state sponsor of terrorism list makes Sudan not eligible to get much needed debt relief and financing from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Removal from the list potentially opens the door for foreign investment.
The head of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemeti, is heading the sovereign council’s delegation while Abdulaziz al-Hilu, leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North which is active in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states, is leading the rebels’ representative team.
On arrival in Juba on Monday, Dagalo said bringing peace in Sudan is their main priority.
“We shall start negotiations with open hearts and we are serious about bringing peace to Sudan,” said Dagalo, reported Reuters.
Yasir Arman, deputy chairman of the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North, said he expects this should be the last round of talks that should address the root causes of war and marginalisation.
The new peace initiative comes after the ousting of long-time President Omar al-Bashir. The Sudanese military toppled Bashir from power in April following months of mass protests over his 30-year rule.
In September, Sudanese officials and rebels agreed on a two-month timeframe for peace talks starting on Oct. 14, under a mediation initiative fronted by South Sudanese President Kiir.