South Sudan offers to mediate 'peaceful transition' in Sudan, rebels declare ceasefire

South Sudan offers to mediate 'peaceful transition' in Sudan, rebels declare ceasefire
3 min read
17 April, 2019
South Sudanese President Silva Kiir on Wednesday offered to aid Sudan with its political transition. Sudan's largest rebel group also declared a three-month ceasefire in the wake of Bashir's overthrow.
South Sudan won its independence from Sudan in 2011 [Anadolu]

South Sudan on Wednesday offered to mediate a political transition in Sudan following the overthrow of former President Omar al-Bashir last week.

Sudan's military seized power in a coup last Thursday following months of mass peaceful protests against Bashir, who took power in a 1989 military coup.

The country is now led by a military transitional council which has promised to transition to civilian rule after two years.

Protests are still ongoing across Sudan, where demonstrators are calling for an immediate transition to civilian government.

"The president has offered to mediate the ongoing negotiations among various groups in Sudan with the hope that the new transition will usher in a new day in Sudan," said a statement from South Sudanese President Silva Kiir's office according to Reuters.

South Sudan was ready to support the "democratic aspirations" of Sudan and help facilitate a peaceful transition, Kiir said.

Kiir's offer comes seven months after Bashir helped to mediate a delicate peace deal between the South Sudanese government and the main opposition rebel group in the country.

South Sudan won independence from Sudan in a 2011 referendum which followed nearly half a century of civil war. Sudan is still engaged in ongoing conflict with rebel groups in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

The secession of South Sudan cost its northern neighbour the vast majority of its oil reserves, causing a significant blow to an already weak economy.

South Sudan's petroleum minister told Reuters he had travelled to Khartoum, accompanied by the country's security service chief and a presidential adviser on security, to meet Sudan's new military leaders.

The countries retain close ties despite a bitter history.

"Juba is clearly concerned about its vested interests in Sudan. Despite being old foes, the two regimes have grown tightly enmeshed," Alan Boswell, a senior International Crisis Group analyst told Reuters.

"Sudan needs South Sudan's oil flows, and South Sudan's political deals often run through Khartoum."

The Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) on Wednesday announced a three-month ceasefire of hostilities as a "goodwill gesture" following the ousting of Bashir.

The SPLM-N is Sudan's largest rebel group.

It splintered from the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) - which fought for South Sudan's independence and is now the ruling party in the country - following Juba's secession.

It has continued to wage an insurgency against Bashir since 2011 in the hopes of achieving autonomy for the southern states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

Hundreds have been killed and tens of thousands displaced in the protracted conflict. Sudan's paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), tasked with fighting the southern insurgency, have been accused by rights groups of attacking civilians. The RSF is led by the now deputy leader of Sudan's transitional military council, Mohammad Hamdan.

SPLM-N leader Abdelaziz Adam al-Hilew declared that the group would halt hostilities until 31 July to "give an opportunity for the immediate and smooth handover of power to civilians", according to Reuters.