Sudan delegation to peace talks will not come: embassy

Jan 14 (AFP)

Sudan's government delegation to peace talks scheduled to start on Wednesday will not be coming to Kenya after all, Sudanese Charge d'Affaires Ahmed Dirdeiry said Tuesday.

"This meeting was a subsidiary process on conflict areas other than the conflict in southern Sudan," Dirdeiry told AFP by telephone.

The rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) said here Monday that a special session of peace talks between it and the government would resume in Nairobi on Wednesday to discuss disputed areas in the centre of the country -- Southern Blue Nile State, Abyei and the Nuba Mountains.

But Dirdeiry insisted on Tuesday that his country's delegation would not come to Kenya for the special talks.

"We had mandated Kenya to mediate between us and Kenya had now invited us to the talks, but we have not agreed on the date or modalities to be used in the negotiations," Dirdeiry stressed.

He charged that emphasis seemed to have been shifted from the main regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) peace talks to the new subsidiary process.

"We want to know the fate of the IGAD peace process, which was due to start in the Kenyan eastern town of Machakos on January 15, but has now been postponed indefinitely, before deciding on subsidiary negotiations, to be chaired by Kenya, over the three disputed areas," Dirdeiry said.

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 has claimed that it controls 90 percent of those territories.

Earlier on Monday, presidential adviser Ghazi Salah Eddin Atabani told journalists in Khartoum 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."

Khartoum and the SPLA agreed during a first round of talks, held in July in 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 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.