UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
SUDAN: Rebels "surprised" by talks postponement
NAIROBI, 20 April (IRIN) - The rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement said it was surprised by the Sudanese government's failure to turn up in Nairobi for peace talks slated to begin Tuesday under the mediation of the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD).
SPLA/M spokesman Samson Kwaje told IRIN the SPLA/M delegation was "in Nairobi and ready for talks" and, as of Tuesday afternoon, still had no official communication from the IGAD secretariat nor the Kenyan foreign ministry, which was to host the talks, about the postponement.
Kwaje said he and his fellow delegates were surprised at the Sudanese government's absence because they had been assured by IGAD and the Kenyan organisers that Khartoum would attend.
Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustapha Osman Ismail requested the postponement so that his government could conduct "further consultations", according to a ministry statement.
This contrasted with a report in the official 'Al-Anbaa' newspaper which cited a government spokesman as saying it was due to "the murder by the SPLA of four Sudanese workers working with the Red Cross last month".
A spokesman at the Kenyan foreign ministry told IRIN on Tuesday that the Sudanese government had cited "technical reasons" in seeking the postponement, and that the request was for a delay of "two to three weeks, so not indefinitely".
Samson Kwaje said the SPLA/M "did not buy the story" that Khartoum needed a postponement to conduct "further consultations" because six months had passed since the adjournment of the last talks in Addis Ababa.
Kwaje said his delegation had not heard from IGAD when talks might be reconvened but that their postponement would not jeopardise SPLA/M participation in any future talks. "Once they call us we will always come because our aim is peace in our country. We'll come back any time", he told IRIN.
Sudan's postponement of the talks has also meant the delay of a meeting of the Technical Committee on Humanitarian Assistance (TCHA), an offshoot of the IGAD process, planned for next month. That meeting will also be rescheduled for a later date, as yet undecided.
Date: Tue, 20 Apr 1999 17:46:15 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: SUDAN: Rebels "surprised" by talks postponement 
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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