Sudan recalls its team from Doha but says it’s still committed to peace in Darfur
December 30, 2010 (DOHA) — Sudan’s negotiating team will leave the Qatari capital but that does not means the government’s withdrawal from the peace process, said presidential adviser Ghazi Salah Al-Deen in Doha on Thursday.
Sudan’s presidential advisor Ghazi Salah Al-Deen (Reuters)
The move comes after an ultimatum given by President Omer Hassan Al-Bashir in Nyala, South Darfur Wednesday. He also said his army would fight rebel groups in the region stressing dialogue should take place inside Darfur with those who want development.
“We have just informed the mediators that our delegation will be departing on Friday,” Ghazi said in a press conference held in Doha after a meeting with the Qatari state minister for foreign affairs and the Joint Chief Mediator Djibril Bassole.
“The delegation will leave because it has nothing to do, but that does not mean we withdrew from the peace process, he said. He further added that they are expecting a peace document to be submitted by the mediation very soon.
Ghazi further said the government will keep dealing with the mediation and any agreement it would propose but not necessarily by keeping its delegation in Doha.
The Sudanese official who announced since July a “new strategy” to end Darfur conflict further said his government would keep seeking to end the conflict by engaging a political dialogue in Darfur.
Sudanese government initially was planning to sign a peace agreement with the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) and, based on this deal, to start a political dialogue with IDPs and civil society groups besides the elected institutions.
The two parties however still disagree on the power sharing file as LJM rebels want a regional authority to administrate the three states and link it with the central government. In addition they ask for a vice-president post, but the government rejects these demands.
LJM also disagrees on some aspects of the security arrangements and the amount of individual compensations: the government put on the table 200 million US dollar while the rebel group asks for 500 million USD.
The head of the African Panel, Thabo Mbeki and the hybrid peacekeeping mission UNAMID support the government’s approach as they agreed with Khartoum to play a role in this strategy.
Ghazi said the government was negotiating with the rebel groups since seven years adding that the delay in final settlement of the conflict encouraged the rebels to keep fighting in Darfur and increased the suffering of the civilians there.
He furthermore said the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) should have the courage to start direct talks with the government and stop sticking to the 10 conditions it filed to the mediation to return to Doha.
JEM rebels submitted on November 13 a 10-point paper asking the mediation to guarantee free movement of their leader, currently in Libya, to Darfur, include Kordofan in the process, and to stop parallel talks with other groups besides other demands dealing with the work of the mediation.
However, JEM since the 17 December agreed to start talks on cessation of hostilities with the government as first step towards direct talks as it had been requested by the government.
The presidential adviser in charge of Darfur file didn’t however say whether they can return to Doha to resume negotiations with JEM rebels if they announce openly their readiness to hold talks with the government.
Amin Hassan Omer, government’s top negotiator, told the press conference that his delegation will be in touch with the mediation to finalize a peace agreement with the rebels.
“We will be in contact with the mediation, even with our partners in the negotiation and we will consult with the mediation on how to make arrangements for the next few days productive and crucial to the peace process,” he said.
The suspension of negotiations with JEM stops the efforts exerted by the US special envoy to Sudan Scott Gration who contributed to hold the ceasefire talks in order to secure a suitable atmosphere for the Southern Sudan referendum.
The mediation and JEM rebels will hold separate press conferences in Doha to explain their positions on Friday.
Bassole said yesterday that no peace can be achieved in Darfur without an agreement with the rebel groups and regretted the government decision to walk out of the process.
Ahmed Hussein Adam, JEM spokesperson accused the government of rejecting talks saying Khartoum was seeking military solution for the conflict. He warned that this option will increase the suffering of civilians and added their readiness to defend their positions.
According to UN agencies in Darfur, recent fighting in Darfur between the government troops and rebels from SLM- Minni Minnawi and JEM fighters forced some 32,000 people to flee their villages.