Unsourced Sudan Tribune report Darfur rebel JEM seeks Slovenian mediation
May 31, 2006 (LJUBLJANA) - excerpt:
The Slovenian president held talks here with the chief negotiator for the Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement, Ahmed Tugod Lissan, and a former governor of Darfur Ahmed Diraige.
Darfur's Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) needs to "stay in the game", in the Darfur peace process, President Janez Drnovsek told the press after meeting JEM representatives in Ljubljana on Tuesday.
According to the Slovenian president, it is difficult to say whether there will be any breakthrough tomorrow, as JEM maintains that it will not sign the proposed peace agreement to end the bloody three-year conflict.
"We will try to find a formula to prevent an increase in tensions," Drnovsek also said after the meeting, which is to resume on Wednesday.
The president held talks with the chief JEM negotiator, Ahmed Tugod Lissan, member of the JEM leadership Abdullahi Osman El-Tom, and Ahmed Diraige, the chairman of the Federal Democratic Alliance and former Darfur governor.
In Drnovsek's view, the only way for the JEM to sign the peace deal is for the group to say what reservations they have about the agreement. "The JEM leadership will have to make a decision in Slovenia," he stressed.
Diraige shared Drnovsek's view, labeling JEM’s participation in the peace process as crucial. Although Diraige as a representative of an all-Sudanese party is not directly involved in the Darfur peace process, he was pleased to have had an opportunity to talk to the JEM.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Drnovsek, Diraige expressed hope that the African mediators will extend the deadline for the signing of the peace accord, and find an acceptable solution which will not lead to increased tensions.
He used the opportunity to thank Slovenia for its support and help for the people in Darfur, and praised Drnovsek for his efforts.
Meanwhile, asked why representatives of the SLM al-Nur faction have not arrived for talks as announced, Drnovsek said that they were initially very interested in coming; yet, he has not heard anything from them since Monday.
The daily Dnevnik said yesterday that the absence of the SLM was a result of pressure from Great Britain and the US. The paper says that the special EU representative for Sudan, Marcel Le Roi, would also be present at the talks.
Drnovsek moreover explained that beside the JEM and the SLM, representatives of the Sudanese government were also invited to today's talks, however, they did not respond to the invitation.
The president's office said earlier today that the head of the JEM Ibrahim Khalil was expected to arrive in Slovenia on Wednesday.
UPDATE: May 31 2006 - JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim arrived in Slovenia today; Sudan Tribune report - Slovenia wants Darfur rebel JEM to sign peace deal
Drnovsek's recent interest in Darfur and efforts to present himself as an international champion of the weak and the poor have baffled some in Slovenia, once part of Yugoslavia. He left his party, the Liberal Democrats, and established his own Movement for Justice and Development.
His political shift over the last year coincided with other changes. He became a vegetarian, moved from the capital, Ljubljana, to a remote village where he follows a careful diet and bakes his own bread, and has traveled to India to study meditation.