Sudan braces for fighting after talks flop


KHARTOUM: Government forces and rebels in Sudan’s war-torn border regions say they are preparing for another bout of fighting after the latest talks in Addis Ababa failed to reach a deal.

The African Union-mediated talks ended last month without a temporary ceasefire being agreed in Darfur, mired in conflict since 2003, and South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, where rebels have been battling since 2011.

Now the rainy season that leaves roads in the regions impassable has ended, both sides are braced for more fighting.

“We are preparing to defend ourselves,” said Arnu Lodi of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, which is based in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

“Our troops are in high morale, well trained and prepared,” Lodi said.

Sudan’s military also says it is on high alert in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

“We know that they are preparing and we are preparing too,” said spokesman Colonel Ahmed Khalifa al-Shami.

The military had been tracking the rebels’ movements during the talks, Shami said, declining to give further details.

The latest negotiations came during a period of calm in Sudan’s conflict-hit peripheries.

President Omar al-Bashir announced a two-month ceasefire in September to persuade rebels to join a national dialogue in Khartoum.

The period coincided with the wet season, when torrential rains usually halt fighting, but the SPLM-N accused Khartoum of carrying out air raids.

“Despite the military’s commitment to the ceasefire announced by the president, it hasn’t abandoned its duty to train, mobilize and protect the country,” Shami said.



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