Sudan’s government restarts peace talks with rebel groups

Abdalla Hamdok is under pressure to end conflict with rebels in the country

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Sudan's transitional government met rebel leaders on Tuesday, resuming peace talks to try to end the country's protracted civil wars.

The talks are being held in South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan in 2011 after decades of war.

After sweeping street protests toppled Sudan’s autocrat President Omar Al Bashir in April, a power-sharing deal between military and civilian leaders called for peace negotiations with the country’s rebels.

The agreement gave transitional authorities a six-month deadline ending in February to make peace with armed groups that have been fighting the central government for years.

Sudan’s new government is under heavy pressure to end the wars with rebels, as it seeks to rehabilitate the country’s battered economy, attract much-needed foreign aid and deliver the democracy it promises.

The Sudanese government delegation was led by the deputy chief of the Sovereign Council, Gen Mohammed Dagalo.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir welcomed the delegation and emphasised his country’s “keenness to make negotiations successful and come to an agreement as soon as possible for the sake of peace".

The Sudanese government also appeared optimistic.

“The government has the genuine will to remove the problems that caused war in Sudan,” said Sovereign Council member Mohammed Al Taishi.

“This present opportunity has not existed in the country’s history.”

Last week Sudan’s new prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, visited Washington to lobby the US to remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed by fighting in Sudan’s insurgencies, including in the restive western Darfur region, where Mr Al Bashir brutally repressed an uprising in the early 2000s.

Since then, the International Criminal Court has sought to arrest the former leader on charges of war crimes and genocide.

In the first round of direct talks, held in October, Sudanese authorities worked to restore rebels’ trust in the government through various gestures of goodwill.

They included releasing several prisoners of war and postponing the formation of the Sudanese Parliament and the appointment of governors until a peace deal allowed rebels to gain representation.

But later allegations of a military attack on a Sudanese rebel group suspended peace negotiations.