South Sudan Proposes Direct Talks Between Sudan’s Rival Leaders

South Sudan has proposed direct talks between Sudan’s military leader Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, the leader of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Sudan’s warring factions on Thursday night agreed on a new ceasefire, extending respite for battered civilians by another 72 hours. But there are continuing reports of fighting in the capital Khartoum.

The previous truce allowed thousands of people to attempt to flee to safety, while dozens of countries have tried to evacuate their citizens.

The ceasefire decision by Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his rival Mohamed Hamdani Daglo, Known as Hemedti, came following pressure from world leaders who had called for urgent de-escalation.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, as part of the regional bloc IGAD, has been in contact since last week with both leaders of the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces to host them in Juba in a bid to resolve the conflict in Sudan.

Addressing foreign diplomats in Juba on Friday, South Sudan’s Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Deng Dau Deng said President Kiir is still engaging Burhan and Hemedti to hold a face-to-face talk to end the ongoing conflict.

 He said the extension of the ceasefire in Sudan for another 72 hours is an opportunity to have the two leaders of the rival factions address their grievances through dialogue.

“So, our hope is that this particular period of 72 hours or beyond could be used as a way to resume the talks so that issues, root causes, and how this war can be averted can now be a space for us and others to join in, whether inside Sudan. Of course, it is quite challenging because Khartoum International Airport is inaccessible, and other towns in Sudan are accessible,” Deng said.

 “But it also depends on both parties to agree on those locations, or out ide Sudan, in the region and South Sudan is included, but again that depends on the choice of the two leaders because venue can’t be imposed on warring parties. We have experience as South Sudan, in our own situation,” he added.

But Abraham Kuol Nyuon, a professor of political science at the University of Juba, said South Sudan should first persuade the two Sudanese leaders to stop fighting before talks commence.

“You know you can’t conduct peace talks when cessation of hostility has not been observed. So the first thing that you should do is to persuade the two leaders to stop fighting and from there talks can begin. It is not important now that the principals should be able to come for the meeting because the level of trust is not very high. The two leaders can send their delegates to attend the peace talks, and this is how the concept of mediation can be effective,” Kuol said.

“The talks should be held outside Sudan, but now it should not be done by the principals. It should be done by the associates of the principals or their representatives at the very beginning,” he concluded.

Chol Mawel