Doha — The Sudanese government and the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) signed a peace agreement in Doha to end the eight year conflict in the restive region of Darfur, as another rebel group blamed Khartoum for refusing to discuss core issues with them.
The deal comes six weeks after a conference of Darfur stakeholders who endorsed a framework document for the resolution of the armed conflict in western Sudan. The text, supported by the international community, urged the Sudanese government and the rebel groups to negotiate a peace pact based on the seven chapters definite by the mediators.
Khartoum said the peace document offers a good ground for peace and rebels can negotiate the integration of their combatants and their political participation in the central government but also in the institutions of the troubled region.
The LJM which was has been in negotiation with the government since March 2010 announced together with the latter their intention to ink an agreement but the JEM which holds parallel talks with Khartoum said compensations and a mechanism of implementation of a peace deal among others need to be reviewed or added.
The Doha Peace Agreement on Darfur was signed by presidential adviser Ghazi Salah Al-Deen who is in charge of Darfur file and the LJM president Tijani El-Sissi. The signing ceremony was attended by the Emir of Qatar, Sudanese, Chadian, Eritrean and Burkina Faso presidents.
Also were presents, the Ethiopian deputy prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Arab League secretary-general Nabil Elaraby, and the secretary-general of the Organisation of Islamic Conference Ekmelddin Ihsanoglu. The head of Darfur peacekeeping operation, UNAMID, Ibrahim Gambari represented the UN chief Ban Ki-Moon and the AU's Jean Ping.
In a speech delivered after the signature, President Omer Al-Bashir expressed his determination "to overstep the days of war and destruction". He further pledged to work with his "partners in the peace agreement" to achieve the aspirations of Darfur people for security and development.
Bashir also stressed his "commitment to follow the peace road map in Darfur and implement, item by item, what we agreed upon".
LJM leader El-Sissi said the agreement is a strong basis for peace in Darfur stressing that the LJM believes on the need for an inclusive deal and did the necessary to get the others (JEM) on board. He also underlined the efforts exerted by his movement to coordinate with them.
Sissi hailed the efforts of the State of Qatar, the African Union, United Nations and the international community emphasizing "We achieved what we had to do for the people of Darfur".
Alluding to the criticisms made by the JEM to the peace agreement they sealed with Khartoum, Sissi said "if someone else believes he can do better than what we did I assure you we will fully endorse what they do".
JEM chief negotiator Ahmed Tugud held a press conference in Doha yesterday where he criticized the government-LJM deal stressing on the need to review the amount of individual compensations, and security arrangements.
Tugud however reiterated JEM commitment to the Doha process and called for talks with the government on all the seven chapters of the framework agreement. He further said that JEM rejects partial solutions.
The mediators said they failed to convince the rebel groups to work together and form one delegation to negotiate with Khartoum. Instead they put out the framework document and said based on this text rebel groups can separately negotiate and sign a peace agreement with the government.
Ghazi Salah Al-Deen in his remarks at the ceremony repeated the position of the government that JEM has three months to join the deal. The government says JEM can only negotiate the situation of its combatants and its participations in the political institutions but refuses to open new talks with the rebel groups on the whole document saying they are not serious to achieve peace in Darfur.
LAST MOMENT HITCHES
Announced to start at 04:00 pm local time, the signing ceremony had been delayed for two hours as the LJM refused to sign the peace agreement unless the government accept to name the members of Darfur regional authority "ministers" instead of "secretary".
The government said "secretary" will allow to distinguish the members of the authority in charge of the implementation of the deal from the states ministers but the rebels refused the argument.
As the two sides camped on their positions, the Qatari prime minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabir Al-Thani had to intervene and asked President Bashir personally to concede to the rebels' demand.
LJM supporters who came from Darfur rallied in the streets of the Qatari capital after the signing to express their gratitude and thankfulness to the State of Qatar and its emir, Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, who sponsored the two year process and pledged to allocate two billions of dollars for Darfur development.