SPLM/SPLA concluding remarks on negotiatons in the three areas of
Abyei, Nuba Mountains and Funj regions

March 4th -19th, 2003

Date: 19 March 03
Our Ref: SPLM/IGAD/1-E-7

Your Excellency, Lt. Gen. (Rtd.), Lazaro K. Sumbeiywo,
Special Envoy for negotiations on the three areas,
Your Excellencies, Honourable Observers,
Honourable Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the SPLM/SPLA and the entire people of New Sudan, my Delegation and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the government of Kenya and the International Community for their tireless efforts to bring about a comprehensive resolution to the Sudanese conflict. It has been our consistent belief that there cannot be a genuine peace in the Sudan unless a comprehensive approach to the Sudanese conflict is adopted. A piecemeal approach will not bring about a just and lasting peace in the country.

Your Excellencies, the SPLM/SPLA feels that the last two weeks have not been a total waste of time but should be taken as a fruitful experience to strengthen future negotiations. Despite the difficulties encountered, particularly during efforts to come up with an agreed upon agenda and Modalities for Negotiations on the Three Areas, we would like to point out that a modest progress has been achieved. These include an agreement on Modalities and Rules relating to the procedures for discussions notwithstanding our reservations about the adopted format, which involves negotiations in three committees one of reach area. We also agreed that the negotiation on the Three Areas was between the GoS and the SPLM/SPLA. Another significant step has been the concurrent view that whatever peace settlement is achieved for the Three Areas must constitute part of the overall Peace Agreement between the GoS and the SPLM/SPLA. In addition to the above achievements, the extension of both the MOU on cessation of hostilities and the CPMT Agreement, are major outcomes of this session. In this context, the SPLM/SPLA appeals to the International Community to persuade the GoS to adhere to the letter of the Agreements.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, having enumerated what the SPLM/SPLA considers as achievements albeit modest ones, we would also like to point out that very little of substance has been achieved in this session of talks in regards to the Three Areas. Mainly because the issues of the right to self-determination, separation of state and religion, as well as power and wealth sharing which the Movement consider as fundamental prerequisites for the resolution of the conflict in the Three Areas have not been addressed. It must be noted that the GoS has not only objected to the discussions of these issues, but also rejected their mere tabling on the agenda. We would like to appeal that such attitude be discouraged otherwise it may frustrate the talks and possibly bring to a halt the genuine efforts by both the Region and the International Community in the quest for a peaceful negotiated settlement. In the same vein, the involvement of all IGAD countries, as Observers, provides a conducive atmosphere to the sustenance of the search for a lasting solution to the war in the Sudan. However, it is regretful to note that this time round, these strategic neighbours of the Sudan have been excluded from the talks on the Three Areas. Therefore, the position of the movement is that the participation of the region is of paramount importance since these countries are directly affected by the instability caused by the conflict in the Sudan.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, the SPLM/SPLA believes that a successful resolution to the conflict in the Three Areas is important in many ways. Primarily, if the conflict in these areas is resolved correctly, it will serve as a model and promote unity on new bases in keeping with the spirit of the Machakos Protocol. This is particularly so if we found a correct formula that addresses the main issues of equitable distribution of power and wealth as well as a method that allows for popular consultation of the people in the Three Areas to determine their future. The SPLM/SPLA position is that the issue of the Three Areas of Abyei, Nuba Mountains and Funj Regions will have to be taken up again soon since resolution of the conflict in these areas represents one of the pillars of any comprehensive peace settlement in Sudan. However, it must be noted that in order to reconvene negotiations on the Three Areas, the Chair will have to either ensure that the parties adhere strictly to the modalities and rules of the negotiations or come up with alternative ones that are implementable.

Finally, the SPLM/SPLA reiterates its commitment to the search for a peaceful negotiated settlement to the Sudanese conflict. Once again, on behalf of the people of the New Sudan and on my own behalf, my delegation and I would like to thank, most sincerely, the people and government of Kenya. They have not only hosted the talks but also shouldered this great and noble responsibility of trying to bring peace, stability and order t the war torn Sudan. Similarly, we extend our sincere gratitude to the International Community for their consistent concern for the suffering people of Abyei Districts, Nuba Mountains and Funj Regions, and their commitment to bring the war in the Sudan to an end.

Thank you for listening.

(Signed) Nhial Deng Nhial,
SPLM/SPLA Chief Negotiator and
Head of Delegation to the Negotiation on the Three Areas.