Sudan’s prime minister has met a senior Darfur rebel leader living in France for talks facilitated by President Emmanuel Macron.
Abdalla Hamdok said that his meeting with rebel leader Abdel Wahid el-Nur, which he had expected to last 30 minutes, went on for nearly three hours and involved “very profound exchanges”, the AFP news agency reports.
“We discussed the roots of the Sudanese crisis and possibilities for a solution and… we are going to lay the first stones for this edifice of peace,” he is quoted as saying.
Nur is the leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-AW). President Emmanuel Macron hailed the meeting as an “essential step” for peace in the troubled east African nation.
“We facilitated talks that Prime Minister Hamdok had yesterday with Abdel Wahid el-Nur, who is in our country,” Macron said at a press conference with Hamdok after talks in Paris.
Darfur is a region in the west of Sudan which has been ravaged by conflict since 2003 when rebels groups took up arms against former President Omar al-Bashir.
The rebel leader does not recognize Hamdok’s government, which came into office in August.
“I accepted to meet the new prime minister not as a prime minister, but as a political figure, ” Nur is quoted as saying by AFP.
“There is no peace, there is no accountability, there is no free press – the killing in Darfur, in the Nuba mountains, in the Blue Nile is continuing.
“All of us we want to sit together in a partnership country, in a partnership of equal citizenship rights, to identify all together what are the problems of Sudan and what is the solution,” Nur said.
Hamdok’s visit to France was his first to Europe as prime minister.
The French president said France is ready to help rebuild Sudan’s economy, announcing a $16.3m (£13m) aid package and plans for a donors’ conference.
Caption: Prime Minister Hamdok (second left) visit to France was his first to Europe as prime minister [Getty Images]