Khartoum — Sudan's justice minister and head of Um Jaras mechanism for peace in Darfur, Mohamed Dousa, disclosed that Zaghawa tribal leaders met recently with the leaders of two rebel groups in Addis Ababa to discuss ways to end the 10-year conflict.
Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of African Union Commission, greets JEM leader Gibril Ibrahim, with the presence of the AU-UN Joint Chief Mediator, Mohamed Ibn Chambas during a workshop in Addis Ababa for peace in Darfur on 10 December 2013 . (Photo Albert González Farran, UNAMID).
Traditional leaders from the transnational Zaghawa ethnic group, last October, held a meeting in the Chadian border town of Um Jaras and decided in a meeting attended by president Idris Deby to carry out their own demarche with the leaders of Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Sudan Liberation Movement Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) faction to convince them to join peace process.
A delegation composed of tribal figures travelled earlier this month to Addis Ababa where it met with JEM leader Gibril Ibrhaim SLM-MM leader Minni Minnawi on the sidelines of a workshop organised by the joint chief mediator from 9 to 11 December to discuss ways to bring peace in Darfur.with the two non-signatory rebel groups.
In statements to Ashorooq TV last Sunday, Dousa disclosed the meeting and described it as "fruitful", adding that the Zaghawa dignitaries explained to the rebel leaders the outcome of Um Jaras forum.
"The fact that the rebel leaders accept to meet the delegation means they accept the idea" of peace and the efforts exerted by the tribal panel, he said .
The head of Um Jaras mechanism added that they are working to develop such kind of meetings with the rebel groups to narrow the gap with them and hold direct talks for peace in Darfur.
Dousa, who is a Zaghawa tribal figure, is the initiator of Um Jaras forum aiming to put tribal pressure on rebel groups to end their insurgency.
JEM and SLM-MM who are under African pressure to negotiate peaceful settlement for Darfur crisis with the Sudanese government rejected the outcome of Um Jaras forum, reiterating their call for a comprehensive process to end all the armed conflicts in Sudan and to establish a democratic regime.
Following the end of Addis Ababa workshop on 12 December, the joint chief mediator Mohamed Ibn Chambas issued a statement welcoming the rebels' "willingness" to negotiate with the government.
However the rebels reaffirmed in a separate communiqué their demand for a holistic process and proposed a comprehensive cessation of hostilities in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile.