Sudan wants core problem of south resolved before other issues - official

Sudanese radio on
January 8, 2003

The president of the republic's adviser for peace affairs, Dr Ghazi Salah-al-Din, has confirmed the government's readiness to continue the [peace] talks through the IGAD initiative at the soonest possible date in January the IGAD secretariat can fix, in accordance with the accord signed in November last year.

Dr Ghazi said according to the government, there was no need to negotiate over the other track [presumably issues regarding the Nuba Mountains, Abyei and Blue Nile] before progress was made on the major track sponsored by the IGAD [Inter-Governmental Authority on Development], namely, the problem of the south. He said this track [southern Sudan] should be accorded greater priority so that the negotiation process did not break down.

Abd-al-Salaam Mudathir earlier contacted the journalist Ustadh [honorific] Uthman Mirghani and asked him first about the latest difficulties facing the peace process.

[Mirghani] It appears that the problem now is not about the timing of the third round of talks in Machakos, Kenya. The problem is the issue to be discussed during this round. When the last memorandum of understanding was signed during the second round, it was agreed that the third round of talks will begin in the first or second week of January and will focus on the issues that were being discussed when the negotiations stopped, namely, the issue of wealth and power-sharing. However, what appears to be going on now is that the expected talks will - as announced by the official spokesman of the movement [Sudan People's Liberation Movement], Samson Kwaje and the IGAD secretariat - deal with the subject of Nuba Mountains, Abyei and Blue Nile. There is a problem here and the major problem is that the government is demanding that this issue be tackled outside the IGAD framework, considering that the first and original initiative sponsored by IGAD, now under discussion, was limited to southern Sudan and its 1956 borders. These areas [Nuba Mountains, Abyei and Blue Nile] are not in southern Sudan. Therefore, the government feels that any discussion about or negotiation over these areas should be conducted outside the IGAD framework...