20 January 2013

Sudan: Darfur Peace - Talks Between Sudan, Rebel Group Kick Off in Doha

Photo: Tim McKulka/ UN Photo
Rebels (file photo).

Khartoum — Sudanese government and a splinter faction of the rebel justice and Equality Movement (JEM) stared direct peace talks in Doha where the parties and the mediation expressed willingness to achieve peace in the troubled region of Darfur.

A group of rebel commanders broke away in September 2012 and signed a goodwill and a cessation of hostilities agreement with Khartoum government in October of the same year.

The direct talks, which had been scheduled initially for December 2012, were delayed to allow the rebels to organise themselves and elect a new leadership. Also the UNAMID organised different workshops to prepare the rebel negotiating team before to engage talks.

Amin Hassan Omer, state minister tasked with implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), told reporters that his government is keen to reach a peace agreement with the rebel group in good faith. He further added that the two parties are sincere in their desire to end the conflict.

Amin who negotiated the Doha frame agreement with the Liberation and Justice Movement underlined that the DDPD is the Document of all the people of Darfur and supported by the international community, African Union and Arab League.

JEM, which inaugurated the Doha process in February 2009, refused to sign the DDPD and demanded to open the text for more talks. However the government and Liberation and Justice signed it on 19 July 2001 besides further deals on power sharing and security arrangements.

Arko Suleiman, JEM-MC, deputy leader and head of the rebel negotiating team reaffirmed that they are peace lovers and keen to end the 10- year conflict in Darfur. He added that they would discuss the seven chapters of the peace document with Khartoum to ensure their full implementation.

He emphasised they want to discuss the issue of displaced civilians and refugees besides some other issues.

He further said that the negotiations will focus on peace in Darfur but stressed that reaching a just and comprehensive peace in the region would lead to peace in the whole of Sudan.

Mohamed Bashr Ahmed, leader of the rebel faction, in an interview with Sudan Tribune last year blamed Khartoum for not yet implementing a series of measures aiming to prepare the return of internally displaced civilians (IDPs) and refugees to their villages.

He said they want tangible measures and strong commitments to ensure the IDPs return, payment of compensations and the improvement of security situation in term of protection of civilians.

Sudan announced last week the payment of over 130 million dollars to implement the recovery and reconstructions projects in Darfur. Khartoum said the severe economic crisis the country is facing prevented from honoring its financial commitments.

Ahmed bin Abdullah Mahmoud, Qatar state minister for cabinet affairs who facilitated the DDPD and worked with the former joint chief mediator Djibril Bassolé, reaffirmed the seriousness of the two parties to end the conflict.

He further that the two parties will decide the issues to negotiate, pointing out that the mediation team proposed to form different panels to discuss the topics included in the DDPD.

He also added that "other groups" approached them and expressed their desire to join the Doha document but did not elaborate on the identity of these groups.

JEM and the two main factions of the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdel Wahild Al Nur and Minni Minnawi formed an alliance with the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North and vowed to overthrow the regime.

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