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South Sudan Offers to Mediate Sudan Conflict

Sudanese people chant slogans and wave Sudanese flags during a demonstration in Khartoum.

South Sudan's government is offering to mediate between Sudan's ruling military council and the opposition, in return for Sudan's role mediating South Sudanese peace talks last year.

A minister in President Salva Kiir's office says the president is concerned about the situation in Sudan and is urging the two sides to form a transitional government soon.

South Sudan presidential minister Mayiik Deng was part of a four-person delegation led by Kiir's security adviser, Tut Galuak, that wrapped a two-day visit to Khartoum on Friday.

Deng said the delegation delivered a message of peace to Sudan's leaders and urged them to find an amicable way to end the stalemate between opposition parties and the Transitional Military Council.

Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, the deputy head of the military council, speaks during military-backed women's rally, in Khartoum.
Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, the deputy head of the military council, speaks during military-backed women's rally, in Khartoum.

While in Khartoum, Deng said the delegation held a series of meetings with military and opposition leaders, telling them South Sudanese officials are uniquely qualified to mediate a peaceful resolution in Sudan.

"We are the closest people to Sudan, more than anybody, more than the Ethiopians. We understand their society, we know their houses, we know where they live. We talk the same language, we don't need translators and we understand the makeup of the Sudanese society. So we can be able to offer them a practical solution that can save them," Deng told VOA's South Sudan in Focus.

In their meetings with various political forces, Deng said some Sudanese said they were excluded from talks between the military junta and the Sudanese Professional Association, the chief organizers of the protests in Sudan.

He said Juba could play a key role in assuring that all Sudanese are represented at the bargaining table.

"We wanted everybody to be included — the traditional political parties and the new political parties, and there were other groups that were brought in by the agreement that was signed by the previous government, with some groups from Darfur and the marginalized areas of the Sudan. Now they are on board. They are talking to the military council and we talked to them, and we are going to give the report [to the president]," Deng told VOA.

The Kiir administration will continue to talk to the SPLM-North in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan and other rebel groups in Sudan, encouraging them to join the peace process, according to Deng.

"They are very happy and they were excited that South Sudan has taken this initiative. We want to return the favor. They have helped us to achieve peace, and we are here to help them," Deng told VOA.

Sudanese officials helped mediate talks between South Sudan's government and rebel groups last year. The talks led to the signing of an agreement to revitalize an earlier peace accord.

Deng said the Sudanese people believe that former President Omar al-Bashir's removal from office will not affect the implementation of the revitalized peace deal.

"They are going to help implement the peace because it was Sudan that signed the agreement, not Bashir. Al-Bashir signed it on behalf of the Sudan. Sudan and us, we are just one people in two countries. We are divided politically, but we are basically one people," Deng said.

Kiir expects to host talks between the Sudanese military and opposition in Juba in the coming days, Deng told VOA.

More than 100 civilians were killed on June 3 when troops and government-backed militia groups ended a months-long sit-in by protesters who were demanding a return to civilian rule.