Sudan peace talks due to resume in Kenya Wednesday: rebels

Jan 13 (AFP)

Peace talks between Khartoum and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) will resume in Kenya this week with a special session in Nairobi to discuss disputed areas in the centre of the country, a rebel spokesman said Monday.

"We will resume on Wednesday with a special session, chaired by Kenya, to discuss southern Blue Nile State, Abyei, and the Nuba Mountains," SPLA spokesman Samson Kwaje told AFP.

But in Khartoum, a senior official said the government will not participate in the talks if they cover the three disputed regions.

Presidential adviser Ghazi Salah Eddin Atabani told journalists that the government would invite Kenyan mediator Lazaro Sumbeiywo to "harmonise with Sudanese officials in order to remove the obstacles hampering the resumption of negotiations."

Sumbeiywo is the mediator for the seven-state Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) which is sponsoring the talks.

IGAD officials were not immediately available for comment, but a Kenyan foreign ministry official, who asked not to be named, said the talks were due to resume Wednesday.

The SPLA last month claimed that it had won a mandate from the southern part of Blue Nile State, in eastern Sudan, and from the Nuba in central Southern Kordofan state, to represent them at the talks.

The government, for its part, has claimed that it controls 90 percent of those territories.

Khartoum and the SPLA agreed during a first round of talks, held in July in the Kenyan town of Machakos, that the mainly Christian and animist south should have a six-year period of self-rule under SPLA administration, after which it "would have the right to self-determination".

In a second round of talks that ended in November they agreed to extend a truce signed in October and to continue peace negotiations until the end of March.

The talks are aimed at ending Sudan's devastating civil war, estimated to have claimed one and a half million lives and displaced four million people since 1983.