March 3, 2021 (JUBA) – Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of the Sovereign Council and Abdel Aziz al-Hilu, SPLM-N leader discussed the resumption of peace talks in a surprising meeting held in Juba on Wednesday.
Al-Burhan travelled Wednesday to the Ugandan capital for talks with President Yoweri Museveni on bilateral ties and Nile water and stopped in Juba where he met South Sudanese President Salva Kiir.
Also, he met with al-Hilu in presence of the South Sudanese Chief Mediator Tut Gatluak to discuss the stalled peace process.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Sudanese Ambassador Adil Hussein Sharfi said they discussion the resumption of the negotiations on the conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
“The meeting discussed reactivating and continuing the peace process in Sudan and the resumption of negotiations with the SPLM in Sudan,” Sharfi said without further details.
The SPLM-N confirmed the meeting in a statement adding they met at Juba Airport at the request of al-Burhan. But did not elaborate on the outcome of the meeting.
The SPLM-N al-Hilu says the relationship between religion and the state should be included in the agenda of the peace talks brokered by South Sudan. But the government insists that the purpose of the Juba process is to end the war and then the issue of religion should be discussed in the constitutional process.
To break the deadlock, Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and al-Hilu met in Addis Ababa on 3 September 2020 where they agreed to discuss the place of religion in the state in a separate and informal workshop in Juba. Once an agreement is reached, the peace talks would resume.
In a meeting held in Juba from 31 October to 1 November, the workshop agreed to separate religion from the state. Nonetheless, the head of the government negotiating team rejected the recommendations of the workshop and stated the Council of Peace had rejected the 3 September agreement.
Shams al-Din Kabbashi further said the joint agreement stipulates that the SPLM-N retains the status quo which includes self-protection until security arrangements are agreed and until “separation between religion and state” becomes effective.