Sudan’s ruling council, rebel leaders agree on peace talks roadmap

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir Mayardit (R) shake hands with ex-vice president and former rebel leader Riek Machar before their meeting in Juba, South Sudan, on September 11, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 11 September 2019

Sudan’s ruling council, rebel leaders agree on peace talks roadmap

  • The council, a transitional government, has made peace-making with rebels fighting Khartoum one of its main priorities

JUBA: Sudan’s ruling council and rebel leaders have agreed on a roadmap for peace talks that are expected to begin in October and last about two months, officials from both sides said on Wednesday.
The council, a transitional government, has made peace-making with rebels fighting Khartoum one of its main priorities as it is a key condition for the country’s removal from the United States’ sponsors of terrorism list.
The council took over the reins of government in August after military and civilian parties and protest groups signed a three-year power-sharing deal after months of strife following the removal of long-ruling authoritarian president Omar Al-Bashir in April.
South Sudan brought together members of the council and rebel leaders from several areas.
Thousands of people have been killed in Sudan’s civil wars, including the conflict in the western Darfur region, where rebels have been fighting against then-President Bashir’s government since 2003.
Sudanese officials and rebels signed the initial agreement in front of diplomats to set a two-month period for talks, starting on Oct. 14 and running until the middle of December.
“Today’s signing aims at the implementation of the peace confidence building that came in the constitutional declaration,” said Yasir Arman, the deputy chairman of the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLM-North).
Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, a member of the sovereign council and head of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), signed the deal on behalf of the government.
“We want assure you and the people of Sudan that we are ready to pay all the damages of the war and we will assure you that time of war is gone forever,” Dagalo said.
The talks will potentially deal with issues of how any cessation of hostilities to be entered will be monitored, and set out modalities of providing humanitarian access to all parts of Darfur and Blue Nile, he said.
Darfur’s war pits local rebel groups drawn largely from African farming tribes complaining about neglect against government forces in a conflict that has displaced about 2.5 million people.
The fighting in Darfur has subsided over the past four years where the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and two factions of the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) are active, but skirmishes persist.
SPLA-N rebels are active in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, two southern regions in Sudan, have largely committed to a cease-fire 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.
South Kordofan and Blue Nile are home to large communities who sided with the south during decades of civil war with Khartoum. Many say they have been marginalized by the Khartoum government since South Sudan declared independence in July under a 2005 peace deal.


Afghan, US forces kill Taliban governors, fighters

Updated 19 min 15 sec ago

Afghan, US forces kill Taliban governors, fighters

  • Joint operations planned to prevent attacks ahead of polls

KABUL: Afghan forces backed by US forces killed two senior Taliban leaders and at least 38 fighters of the hard-line insurgent group in joint airstrikes conducted in northern and western regions of Afghanistan, officials said on Sunday.

The operations, launched on Saturday night, were aimed at foiling attacks planned by the Taliban on Afghan forces, said a senior security official in capital Kabul, adding that clashes have escalated following the collapse of diplomatic talks between the US and the Taliban.

The Defense Ministry in a statement said that the Taliban’s designate governor for northern Samangan province, Mawlavi Nooruddin, was killed along with four fighters in an airstrike in Dara-e-Soof Payeen district.

But the Taliban denied the governor had been killed.

“He (Nooruddin) is alive,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman said in a statement.

HIGHLOW

  • Taliban deny the governor of Samangan province had been killed.
  • Last week, insurgents killed four Afghan special force members in a car bomb blast.
  • Afghan officials say around 100,000 members of the country’s security forces are ready for polling day.

In a separate incident, Mullah Sayed Azim, a Taliban designate governor for Anar Dara district in western Farah was killed in a joint Afghan and foreign force raid.

“Sayed Azim was killed along with 34 other insurgents in Anar Dara,” said Mohibullah Mohib, a spokesman for Farah provincial police.

Senior security officials in Kabul said several joint operations will be launched against Taliban and Daesh fighters to prevent attacks on Afghan forces and civilians ahead of the presidential polls on Sept. 28.

Fighting picked up in several parts of Afghanistan last week after US President Donald Trump’s abrupt cancelation of talks with the Taliban aimed at withdrawing US troops and opening the way to end to 18 year-long war in Afghanistan. 

 

Troops for polling day

Afghan officials say around 100,000 members of the country’s security forces are ready for polling day. Nasrat Rahimi, spokesman for the Interior Ministry said on Sunday that 72,000 security personnel will be on duty around the 4,942 polling centers across Afghanistan while nearly 30,000 additional troops will serve as reserve units.

Defense Ministry spokesman Rohullah Ahmadzai said security forces have recently taken back eight districts from the Taliban and that operations are underway to secure around 20 others.