Sudan: Darfur Rebels Demand Update On Peace Talks Process

Juba / Khartoum — The Darfur armed movements that entered negotiations with the Sudanese government in Juba in mid-October have officially requested the South Sudanese mediation team to clarify the delay of the second round of peace talks. The National Peace Support Organisation organised a rally in Khartoum on Tuesday in support of the Juba negotiations and peaceful coexistence in the country.

On October 14, the first round of peace negotiations between the new Sudanese government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF, an alliance of Sudanese armed movements) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North faction, led by Abdelaziz El Hilu in South Kordofan, started. The basis for the talks formed the Juba Declaration of Principles, signed by the parties on September 11.

The first round ended on October 22, when the mediators announced that the negotiations were postponed to November 21, to give the parties time for consultations.

Yet, on November 20, Juba again delayed the second round, to December 10, because of "the commitment of some of the armed movements to workshops related to the peace process", Tut Galwak, Security Advisor to South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and head of the mediation team, said.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the Sudan Liberation Movement faction led by Minni Minawi (SLM-MM), the Sudan Liberation Movement-Transitional Council (SLM-TC), and the Sudan Liberation Forces Alliance (SLFA) called on Galwak to explain the second postponement.

The Darfur rebel groups also requested an update on the decisions of the African Peace and Security Council, herein supported by the UN Security Council, concerning the mandate of the South Sudanese mediation team and the venue for the peace talks.

During the regime of ousted President Omar Al Bashir, peace negotiations between the Sudanese government and Darfur armed movements were brokered by Qatar that as well granted millions of dollars for development projects, including a large number of model villages for returning displaced, in Darfur.

Peace is the main gateway to a successful transitional period - activist Mohamed Jelani

Unification

Mohamed Zakaria, spokesman for the current Darfur negotiation track, said that the parties held a meeting on November 23, during which they agreed to further unify their negotiating position, and to form a joint negotiating delegation.

They also decided to appoint a spokesman, develop direct communication channels, and unify administrative arrangements to strengthen their position, in addition to promote direct communication lines between them, the Sudanese government delegation, mediation team, and the host country.

The rebel groups reiterated their call on the government to abide by the Juba Declaration which stipulates that the Sudan's Legislative Council will be formed and civilian state governors appointed only after the signing of the final peace agreement.

Peaceful coexistence

On Tuesday, the National Peace Support Organisation (NPSO) organised a rally in Khartoum, in support of the peace negotiations in Juba and to promote peaceful coexistence between the various communities in the country.

Representatives of the SRF rebel alliance, the Marginalised Forces Association, displaced people, refugees, native administration leaders, and student and youth groups, attended the event held at the Freedom Square (formerly called the Green Square) south of the international airport.

"Peace is the main gateway to a successful transitional period," NPSO Chairman Mohamed Jelani told the crowd.

"The rally represents a strong message to the negotiating parties: Peace is a public demand, and we will work hard to keep it," he said. "Peace committees will be formed in the neighbourhoods to guard the peace agreement."

A series of rallies to be held in Khartoum and the states when a comprehensive peace has been reached.

Marginalised

Jelani further announced the formation of the Association for Professionals in Marginalised Areas, stressing that "Development of the marginalised areas in Sudan's periphery must be handled on the national level instead of the state level".

Juma El Wakeel, head of the SLM-MM delegation visiting Khartoum, said that the armed movements achieved peace immediately after the fall of the regime in April, "before signing any agreement".

The spokesman emphasised that the RSF alliance has been a partner of the December Revolution. "Therefore, the Juba negotiations are not between enemies but between partners," he said, and added that "The unity of the revolutionary forces has strengthened the people living in the peripheries".

The extradition of Al Bashir to the ICC is one of the main conditions for the success of the peace process in the entire country - Mohamed Ahmed Abdelsamad, spokesman for the resistance committees in the southern districts of Khartoum

Extradition

On Tuesday as well, a group of activists staged a protest in front of the Ministry of Justice in Khartoum, demanding the extradition of the perpetrators of war crimes and genocide in Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

Mohamed Ahmed Abdelsamad, spokesman for the resistance committees in the southern districts of Khartoum, pointed to the need to hold accountable all those who committed genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

The leaders of the former regime currently held in Kober Prison in Khartoum North should be immediately transferred to The Hague. "This is one of the main conditions for the success of the peace process in the entire country," Abdelsamad told this station.

"The roots of the problems in Sudan must be addressed, the issues of displaced people and refugees must be solved by providing security and stability" he said.

According to Brianne McGonigle Leyh, Associate Professor at the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights, victim participation must be the crucial focus of transitional justice in Sudan.

'Integral part'

On October 15, Radio Dabanga published an analysis by Darfuri human rights researcher Mohammed Elgizoly regarding the extradition of Al Bashir.

"It is evident that the primary obstacle to the new administration is the peace process in Darfur, in which Al Bashir's case constitutes an integral part of the process," Elgizoly said. "Thus, for the new administration to prove itself as 'a peace-loving state' it has no other option but to hand over Al Bashir to the ICC."

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