Doha — The government of Sudan and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) splinter group resumed direct peace talks in Doha, Qatar, on 20 January. Both parties vowed to spare no effort to reach a peaceful settlement on the basis of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), UNAMID says.
"Both parties came to Doha with a sincere and strong desire to reach a settlement that would put an end to the suffering of the people of Darfur," said Qatar's Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Bin Abdullah Al-Mahmoud, one of the talks' sponsors.
He added that "other groups" approached them and expressed their desire to join the Doha document. He did not elaborate on the identity of these groups.
Ms. Aichatou Mindaoudou, the Acting Joint Special Representative of UNAMID and Joint Chief Mediator a.i., is the other sponsoring member of the Doha peace talks.
She commended the Sudanese government and JEM for having kept their promise to return to negotiations on the basis of the DDPD.
"The African Union, the United Nations and other national and international actors stand ready to assist the parties, and to support successful negotiations," she stated, urging delegations to seize this opportunity to soon reach agreement and give peace a chance in Darfur.
The negotiation teams are led by Amin Hassan Omer, State Minister and Head of the Darfur Follow-Up Office, and General Arko Suleiman Dahiya, Vice-President of JEM Sudan.
Omer declared that his government is keen to reach a peace agreement with the rebel group in good faith. He underlined that the DDPD is the Document of all the people of Darfur and supported by the international community, African Union and Arab League.
Dahiya stated they "are peace lovers and keen to end the 10- year conflict in Darfur", Sudan Tribune reports.
He said the movement would discuss the seven chapters of the peace document with Khartoum to ensure their full implementation and emphasized they want to discuss the issue of displaced civilians and refugees besides some other issues.
JEM's head of the negotiation team also said 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.
The direct talks had been initially scheduled for December 2012 but postponed to about one month later.
In addition, UNAMID had organized different workshops between 10 and 14 January 2013 to prepare the rebel negotiating team before engaging in the talks. The mission affirmed it enlightened 36 future negotiators on the provisions of the DDPD and negotiation skills.
Meanwhile, UNAMID is urging all non-signatory movements to lay down arms and join the peace process.
JEM splinter group
On 11 September Radio Dabanga reported that a splinter faction of JEM announced its separation from Darfur's largest rebel group.
Ali Wafi, the splinter group's transitional military council's spokesman, spoke with Radio Dabanga in September from Cairo, Egypt. He accused JEM of becoming a biased organization, expressing favoritism to some particular ideas and accused the group of being no longer transparent.
On his turn, JEM's spokesperson, Jibril Adam Bilal, told Radio Dabanga that these new developments would not affect the movement.
He stressed they would continue to fight against the National Congress Party (NCP) and towards the establishment of new state institutions. Bilal added that any reforms within JEM are to be done through elections and not through the creation of new breakaway factions.
On 19 October 2012, a delegation of 31 members of JEM's splinter group arrived in Doha. By then they denied going to Qatar to negotiate or sign a peace agreement, but rather to explain internal issues about the group and about the situation in Darfur.
During their visit, Wafi said the mediators asked the group to join the Doha document. However, Mohamed Bashar Ahmed, head of the delegation, said the Doha document did not tackle all of the Darfur issues and that his movement has reservations against some files of the document.
Other reasons as to why the splinter group denied to join the Doha document were because refugees and displaced are still living in camps, the security situation in Darfur is dire and a number of Darfuris are still detained by the regime in Khartoum.
He stated that if the mediators wanted the group to join the Doha document, the agreement would have to be renegotiated.
Commitment to peace process
On 22 October 2012, representatives from the Government of Sudan and from the rebel splinter group signed a declaration affirming their commitment to the peace process.
They also agreed on an immediate cessation of hostilities and decided to resume negotiations in order to achieve a comprehensive settlement of the conflict on the basis of the DDPD.
On this note, JEM spokesman told Radio Dabanga that the movement does not recognize the splinter group nor is it represented by it. He added JEM does not recognize the peace agreement signatories.
He reaffirmed the commitment of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), a coalition of rebel movements, to overthrow the regime in Khartoum.