Peace talks began Wednesday in Juba between the transitional government and the armed opposition Sudan Popular Liberation Movement-North, led by Abdel Aziz Adam al-Hilu.
The two sides signed a declaration of principles in March with the government agreeing to separate religion from the state.
Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling sovereign council of Sudan, said peace is the way that will bring unity and he accepted talks with the opposition group with an open heart.
“Our time has gone,” he said. “What we are doing now is to develop the country for the younger generation.”
He said he is committed to implementing a previous agreement that was signed with other opposition groups.
“We are committed to following what we have agreed in the declaration of principles. All Sudanese want peace. We want Sudan that will accommodate all of us, and all citizens must be equal. Whether in the east, west — no person is better than another one.”
President Salva Kiir, who is hosting the talks, urged both sides to embrace the spirit of dialogue for peace and unity instead of war.
“War cannot solve any problem. We fought for 21 years and didn’t achieve the whole thing we want,” he said.
He told representatives to think about people who have been suffering for a long time to the extent they do not have clothes to wear.
Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said the start of dialogue is not only about mere negotiation but it must be able to solve problems and bring an end to the suffering of people, and representatives should come with change.
“We have to be committed to peace,” he said. “What is important is the peace between us and the SPLM-North. The dialogue in the direction of peace is about freedom and welfare in most parts of Sudan especially in the area affected by conflict. We hope to negotiate and bring peace and resolve other issues and to support all projects agreed by us as Sudanese. Our country is diverse. It is diverse by ethnicity, religion and culture. We have to use the diversity to improve our unity.”
Al-Hilu said the group is committed to peace that will address the root causes of the conflict and bring the rule of law.
He said continuous human rights violations in Sudan, without bringing perpetrators to justice, remains a major threat.
The government signed a peace agreement last year with opposition groups except for two rebel movements — one in the western region of Darfur known as the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army led by Abdul Wahid Al Nur and the SPLM/A-N from the south in the Nuba mountains region.
The group led by Abdelaziz Adam Al-Hilu, rejected the deal because it demanded Sudan do away with sharia law and become a secular, democratic state.
But in March, the government and the SPLM-N signed a roadmap for peace talks and agreed to separate religion from the state.
Source: Anadolu Agency