Sudan: Khartoum And JEM Rebels Start Peace Talks This Week - Darfur Mediator

Paris — Sudanese government and rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) will resume direct talks this week in Doha, the Joint Chief Negotiator, Djibril Bassolé announced Tuesday in a press conference held in Paris.

The mediation circulated last week a new compromise proposals on six pending issues in the talks between the government and Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM). JEM said direct negotiations are needed to elucidate and mark its positions on different issues.

Presidential adviser in charge with Darfur file Ghazi Salah Al-Deen, during a short visit to Doha, agreed to resume talks with JEM rebels in a meeting held Monday with the Qatari state minister for foreign affairs Ahmed bin Abdullah Al-Mahmoud.

"We are on track to achieve a comprehensive peace in Darfur. The government and JEM delegations will resume direct talks next Thursday as other members of the rebel delegation are arriving to Doha, Bassole told Sudan Tribune later when he asked to elaborate on the issue.

He further said the two warring parties would start talks with the human rights chapter.

The head of the government negotiating delegation, Amin Hassan Omer, told the SMC today that they expect the mediation would deliver the final draft of the peace agreement before the 15th March as they plan to launch the Darfur-Darfur Dialogue on this date.

Since December, the Sudanese government said was resolved to hold an internal process for dialogue among Darfur social and political forces which is seen as more productive to bring peace in the restive region.

Asked about another initiative excluding the rebel movements carried by head of the AU Panel Thabo Mbeki, he said the rebels are an offshoot of Darfur society and as such they should be at the center of any peace agreement.

He further added that the Doha approach is based on the conjunction of efforts that civil society and rebels can do together for the sake of peace in Darfur. "No one can exclude the other but both would work toward the same goal".

Khartoum had withdrawn its negotiating team from Doha Last December and stopped talks with JEM on a cessation of hostilities agreement. But the rebel delegation remained in Doha.

Regarding the situation of JEM leader who is currently in Tripoli where the embattled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi faces growing popular revolt, Bassole called on the all the partners of the Darfur peace process to provide the needed support to facilitate the departure of Khalil Ibrahim from Libya.

He told reporters that Khalil Ibrahim agreed with him before the uprising to return to Doha and they were preparing to transport him to Doha.

Also, Bassole said every effort is needed to encourage Minnawi's recommitment to the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA). He pointed out that his disengagement from the 2006 deal will not push the other rebel groups to agree with the government to end the eight year conflict.

He however said favorable to combine the DPA with the expected Doha peace agreement within the framework of an integrated process. "We have to see how the different peace deals can come together".

The joint mediator said that rebels' cohesion remains a condition without which viable peace would be difficult to achieve.

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