Sudan's al-Bashir promises to study SPLM's demands amid accusations against SPLM

Oct. 16, 2007 (Xinhua)

Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir promised Tuesday that he would "carefully study" the demands presented by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) as his government accused the SPLM of jeopardizing the upcoming peace talks between the government and Darfur rebels.

Al-Bashir made his pledge earlier in the day during a meeting with a SPLM delegation in an effort to remove a political crisis triggered by the movement's decision to suspend its participation in the central government.

"The President stressed to the SPLM delegation during their meeting that the memorandum would be carefully treated and studied by institutions of the government and political parties," said the official news agency SUNA, referring to those demands presented by the SPLM.

The SPLM, the former rebel movement in southern Sudan, had presented demands to the Sudanese central government a few days ago.

The demands were contained in a letter from SPLM Chairman and Sudanese First Vice President, Salva Kiir Mayardit, to al-Bashir, said SUNA.

"The memorandum deals with arrangements for implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and special proposals for changing some ministerial portfolios," SUNA said.

The former rebel SPLM, which signed a peace agreement with the Sudanese government in 2005, decided on Thursday to withhold the participation of its ministers in the central government, accusing the government of delaying in implementing the peace agreement.

The SPLM asked the central government to settle the demands before the ministers of the movement could return to the central government.

Out of the 28 ministers in the Sudanese central government, eight are from the SPLM, including the minister for cabinet affairs, the foreign minister, the minister of investment, the minister of foreign trade and the minister of health.

The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) led by al-Bashir, has accused "a small group" within the SPLM of seeking to end the partnership between the two sides.

According to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the political power in the Sudanese central government has been shared between the SPLM and the NCP while an autonomous government has been formed by the SPLM in southern Sudan.

In addition, Sudanese Minister of Presidency, Bakri Hassan Salih, told reporters in the day that al-Bashir and Mayardit will have "discussions and dialogues on the details of the memorandum" after Mayardit's arrival in Khartoum in the next few days.

The United Nations was concerned about the withdrawal of the SPLM from the Sudanese central government, fearing it could threaten upcoming peace talks between the government and rebel groups in Darfur in Libya on Oct. 27.

On Saturday, UN representative Taye-Brook Zerihoun met SPLM leaders and said he was encouraged to hear the movement would continue dialogue with the NCP.

Meanwhile, al-Bashir's government accused the SPLM of jeopardizing the upcoming peace talks between the government and Darfur rebels.

This came during a meeting between Sudanese Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ali Ahmed Kerti and Zerihoun.

"Ali Kerti clarified to the UN envoy that the timing of the SPLM 's decision is jeopardizing the Darfur peace negotiations", said Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadig after the meeting.

"This decision has sent wrong signals to the negotiations as well as the participants," the spokesman added.

It was the first time for the Sudanese government to link the SPLM's decision to the Darfur peace negotiations to be held in Libya.

The SPLM and al-Bashir's government have exchanged blames for a delay of implementing the 2005 CPA, which was signed in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi following years of tough negotiations. The CPA put an end to the 21-year civil war between the northern and southern parts of the African country.

According to local media, issues which have not been ironed out between the two sides include the dispute on the enclave of Abiye, the problem of demarcation and the withdrawal of the armed forces of the government from the oil fields in southern Sudan.


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