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Sudan PM pushes for peace in first trip to rebel bastion

FILE PHOTO: PM Abdallah Hamdok is reaching out to rebels

Khartoum, Sudan | AFP |  Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok Thursday vowed to achieve peace in Sudan’s war zones as he visited rebel stronghold Kauda.

“This is a great chance to show our people in Kauda and across the world that their transitional government is working hard to achieve comprehensive justice and peace,” Hamdok said on Twitter.

It was the first visit by a government official to the town in conflict wracked South Kordofan state in nearly a decade.

Armed rebels for years fought troops deployed by now toppled autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

Hamdok’s visit comes as Sudan’s transitional government is talking with rebel groups over a possible peace deal in South Kordofan, neighbouring Blue Nile and the Darfur states.

He said Khartoum’s new authorities were working towards providing “more aid to areas that are affected by wars and were marginalised for decades”.

Hamdok was accompanied by several foreign diplomats and Sudanese journalists.

Hamdok’s “historic visit … signals rebuilding of trust, improvement in humanitarian assistance and good prospects for a peace deal,” Britain’s ambassador to Khartoum, Irfan Siddiq, wrote on Twitter.

Siddiq was among the diplomats who travelled to the town.

Hamdok’s government is engaged in talks with rebel groups and the two sides held negotiations last month in South Sudan’s capital Juba.

During the talks Khartoum agreed to revive a long-dormant irrigation system in a central farming region of Sudan.

Over the years, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in fighting in the three war zones, mainly in the western region of Darfur.

Bashir, who was ousted in April on the back of nationwide protests against his rule, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged genocide and war crimes in Darfur.

Last month a Sudanese court sentenced Bashir to two years in detention for corruption in the first of several domestic cases against him.

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