Khartoum — The U.S. Charge'd' affaires in Khartoum, Joseph D. Stafford, revealed on Sunday that his country is conducting efforts to persuade the rebel groups who did not sign the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) to join the peace deal that aims to end the nine-year conflict in Sudan's western region.
In a meeting with Sidiq Adam Wida'a, the chairman of the dialogue committee set up by the DDPD-mandated Darfur Regional Authority (DRA), the U.S. diplomat said that he had personally initiated contacts with a number of the leaders of the non-signatory groups in order to arrange direct meetings.
Stafford, who received a briefing from Wida'a about his committee's plan of action, said that the U.S. government is seeking to bring Darfur rebel leaders to Washington or Addis Ababa, where it would talk them into joining the peace process and signing the DDPD.
The DDPD was signed in mid-July 2010 between the government and the former rebel Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), an umbrella of smaller rebel factions led by Al-Tijani Al-Sisi, who now heads the DRA, but main rebel groups, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and two factions of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) led by Abdel Wahid Mohammed Nur and Manni Arkoi Minnawi refused to join.
The implementation of the deal itself has faltered due to a number of factors, including lack of promised funding for reconstruction and return of IDPs, the recent upsurge of insecurity and attacks on AU-UN peacekeepers in the region, and the government's failure to disarm the unbridled tribal militias it used in countering the insurgency that started in the region as of 2003.
Stafford said that Darfur issue has become more problematic and complicated. He added that resolving the issue requires the support of the government in Khartoum as well as that of the international community including the U.S.
He further revealed that Washington informed Minnawi, who is currently visiting the U.S., to renounce the war strategy and engage in a political process.
Wida'a, whose 14-meber taskforce was established by DRA's leader Al-Tijani Al-Sisi in early November this year, told the U.S. diplomat that their strategy aims at uniting rebel factions under one body to speak in one voice about the problems of the region. He added that comprehensive peace cannot be realized unless everyone puts down their arms and embark on a political process.
In response to a question by the U.S. diplomat about the stance of his committee on negotiating with the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF), which is a rebel coalition comprising non-signatory rebel groups and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N), a powerful rebel group fighting in the border regions of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, Wida'a said that their view is that Darfur issue should be negotiated separately and away from the issue of the two border regions.
He said that each conflict has its own distinct nature and that discussing all the issues on one table will prolong and complicate the process of negotiations.