SUDAN WATCH: Darfur's SLA rebel faction leader Abdel Wahed Mohammed al-Nur receives a letter from US President George W Bush

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Darfur's SLA rebel faction leader Abdel Wahed Mohammed al-Nur receives a letter from US President George W Bush

Margaret Warner of America's News Hour reports from Sudan on the obstacles facing politicians and refugees before a peace deal can be achieved. She has been in Sudan for a week and reports on May 12, 2006 from the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. Click here to read or hear interview with:

MAJZOUB AL-KHALIFA, Presidential Adviser
SUDANESE CITIZEN (through translator)
HASSAN AL-TURABI, Leader, Popular National Congress
CAMERON HUME, U.S. Charge D'Affaires
AMIN ABDELLATIF, Foreign News Editor, Alwan

Snippets from interview:


MARGARET WARNER: Well, Ray, one of the groups, called JEM, is an Islamist group that always said they'll never sign a deal, so that's off the table.

But the other large group, which is lead by a fellow named Abdel Wahid Nur, even though it is not a heavily armed group -- and so, militarily, it's not hugely important -- the party's want him to sign on because he represents the largest tribe in Darfur, the Fur tribe. That's what Darfur means: Land of the Four.

And they are by far the most populous group. And anyone who's really looked at the situation out there feels that to have excluded the most populous tribe from the peace agreement just is a recipe for instability.

So Mr. Nur is down, apparently still in Nigeria, I'm told. The president of Nigeria is leaning on him very, very hard. He got this letter from President Bush saying: You know, I'll really be watching the implementation. I'll make sure it's implemented right.

He was apparently complaining about the letter. There wasn't enough. And someone told me today that -- Obasanjo, the president of Nigeria, said: I don't even get a letter from President Bush. You got a letter, and you still got questions?

But Nur apparently wants more assurances. So what's under discussion now is having the African Union, which has been mediating the deal, come up with yet another letter that has some assurances. But the parties are not willing to change the terms.

So I don't think we'll know -- I mean, we may know this weekend -- but Monday is D-Day. He's been invited to come to this big event in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia if he's ready or if he has signed the deal.

CAMERON HUME: I have a very strong feeling that, like most people, the leaders of the Sudanese government would rather be subject to less opprobrium and to be better accepted in the world.

President Bashir was not made the head of the African Union a few months ago because of concern among African countries over the consequences of the ongoing conflict in Darfur. And I think that kind of a setback has been troubling to this government, and they would rather not be the polecats of the world.

MAJZOUB AL-KHALIFA: We are making peace on the side. And to make violence, killing, rape and that, and directed by the government? What a government can do that. Nothing of that at all. But there is a crisis in Darfur that is true, but there is a tribal conflict.

HASSAN AL-TURABI: I mean, if there were negotiations going along, people can hold their arms for a while. But if they know that the negotiations are over, this is the settlement, the settlement is not satisfactory, there will be an eruption somewhere.

MARGARET WARNER: In the refugee camps, we found little evidence that residents have any faith in the promises made by the Sudanese government. Indeed, many refugees, even one listening to short-wave radio, were unaware that a peace deal had been reached.

SUDANESE CITIZEN (through translator): I don't know anything about it, nothing about it at all.

[via CFD with thanks]


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