Sudanese split on peace talks failure: Southern rebels scorn Khartoum's optimism
Asked what the peace talks had achieved, Sudan's Foreign Minister, Bishop Gabriel Roric Jur, said on Thursday: 'There is a ceasefire which will continue for the duration of the talks . . . and there is the agreement to resume talks . . . The two sides now deal with each other as friends.'
But an SPLA spokesman, Nhial Deng Nhial, said: 'There are no prospects for a breakthrough. The chances are not promising.' And John Garang, the leader of the SPLA faction involved in the talks, said the north had offered nothing new.
The issue which divides the two sides - and has divided the two parts of Sudan for centuries - remains the same: the north is Islamic and Arab, and the south is Christian and black African. The northern government in Khartoum wants an Islamic state, but is prepared to offer the south some exemption from Islamic law. Mr Garang's SPLA stands for a secular state and devolved power. It will not accept an Islamic state, in which southerners are exempted from Sharia law but remain second-class citizens.
Whatever formulas the two sides come up with do not bridge this gap, but both sides need the talks just now. The government is bankrupt and divided between Islamic fundamentalism and military pragmatism. It is involved in a border dispute with Egypt. It is being chastised by Western governments and donors for its Islamic fundamentalism, and is pursuing political integration with Libya.
Khartoum has sought a way out of this corner by trying to appear reasonable and statesmanlike, employing a public relations firm in Washington, offering visas to Western journalists and appearing flexibile at the peace talks. But these moves are contradicted by its attempt to be the standard-bearer of Islamic militancy. On 18 April President Omar al-Bashir was quoted on state radio as saying that Sudan was 'not involved in acts of terrorism - except against the enemies of God'.
The SPLA is, meanwhile, at war with itself. It split two years ago and the original wing, led by Mr Garang, is trying to defeat the breakaways, led by Riak Machar. Mr Garang stood for a united secular Sudan, but Mr Machar is demanding a separate south. The split has led to a debilitating tribal war, and Mr Garang needs a ceasefire with Khartoum to destroy the rebels from his own ranks. But he knows the main tribes in the south, including his own Dinka, are separatist, and he is moving towards a separatist position.
Khartoum, meanwhile, wants to sit back and watch the south tear itself to pieces - and to show the world that the south cannot rule itself.
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...
£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...
£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...