SUDAN WATCH: JEM, SLA/M Nur & Minnawi sceptical about Darfur Peace Talks - Darfurian leaders attack Minnawi's stance over Doha talks - JEM want Bashir to step down

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

JEM, SLA/M Nur & Minnawi sceptical about Darfur Peace Talks - Darfurian leaders attack Minnawi's stance over Doha talks - JEM want Bashir to step down

Representatives of the Afro-Arab Ministerial Committee on the Peace Process in Darfur, led by Qatar, and representatives from the African Union talked with Arab ambassadors at UN headquarters Monday, Sudan's UN ambassador Mohamed said. They will also talk to African ambassadors and members of the 15-nation Security Council.

Mohamed said he had been scheduled to meet with new US Ambassador Susan Rice on Monday but their talks were delayed until later in the week because of a Security Council briefing by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Source: Associated Press report by Edith M. Lederer, Tuesday 10 February 2009, copied here further below.

Monday, 9 February 2009, report from Xinhua (Doha) by Editor Yan:
Qatar hosts consultative meeting on Darfur with int'l bodies

Qatar hosted here Monday a consultative meeting on Darfur with international bodies including the Arab League (AL), the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC)and the African Union (AU).

Qatari Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ahmed Al-Mahmoud met with AL Secretary General Amr Moussa, OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, AU Commissioner John Bing as well as UN-AU envoy for peace in Darfur Djibril Basole in order to push ahead the Doha-brokered talks on peace in the western Sudanese region of Darfur.

Speaking to the press after the meeting, Al-Mahmoud hailed the consultative talks as fruitful and conducive to the efforts being made to restore peace and security in Darfur.

According to the Qatari official, he and Basole briefed the meeting on the progress made by the Qatari mediation and the concerted efforts of the United Nations and the concerned international bodies to solve the armed conflict in the Sudanese region.

The conferees reaffirmed support to Qatar's mediation between the Sudanese government and the armed groups in Darfur, Al-Mahmoud said.

Doha has set the stage for the first round of peace talks between the two conflicting sides which has been scheduled to take place this evening.

But it has been put off until Tuesday due to the late arrivals of the representatives of the government and the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

The preliminary peace talks will be followed by more rounds that will gather representatives of other armed groups which are still opposed to the talks, Al-Mahmoud noted.
Darfur peace talks in Doha 9 Feb 09

Photo: HE Ahmed bin Abdullah al-Mahmoud, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Amr Moussa, Arab League Secretary General, Jean Ping, Chairman of the Commission of the African Union, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and Djibril Bassole, United Nations and African Union Joint Chief mediator for Darfur, attending a Doha meeting Monday, 9 Feb. 2009. Source: Gulf Times Tuesday, 10 Feb. 2009 Doha hosts meeting on Darfur:
A HIGH-LEVEL consultative meeting was convened in Doha yesterday afternoon as part of an initiative to find a peaceful solution to the Darfur conflict.

The meeting, attended by HE the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ahmed bin Abdullah al-Mahmoud, Arab League chief Amr Moussa, OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihasanoglu, African Union (AU) commission chairman Jean Ping and United Nations and African Union chief negotiator on Darfur Djibril Bassole, aimed to conducting consultations on ways to support Darfur peace talks and render them successful.

“The participants reiterated their commitment to work together in lending their full support to the concerted efforts being exerted by the UN/AU joint chief mediator and the State of Qatar to find a solution to the Darfur crisis and restore peace and stability therein,” the official Qatar News Agency (QNA) said.
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Monday, 9 February 2009 report from Bloomberg by Heba Aly - excerpt:
Darfur Rebels Skeptical About Talks With Sudan’s Government

The most powerful rebel group in Sudan’s Darfur region said it is skeptical about the success of peace negotiations with the government scheduled to begin today in Doha, Qatar.

“We have a lot of doubts that the other party is serious and coming in good faith,” Gebreil Ibrahim, economic adviser for the rebel Justice and Equality Movement, said yesterday in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, “There is a lot of barriers of trust between the two parties.”

Ibrahim met with Egyptian government officials before leaving for Doha for what is the first attempt to hold talks in almost 18 months. [...]

Past attempts at negotiation with the JEM have failed. These latest talks come in the lead up to a decision by the International Criminal Court on whether to indict Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, as a result of the government’s counter-insurgency in Darfur.

Ibrahim, the brother of JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim, said al-Bashir should step down in the face of the likely indictment, which may come in the next few days.

“His stepping down will be very patriotic, helping his country and making life easier for his people,” Ibrahim said. An indicted president may lead to increased sanctions and less international diplomacy with Sudan, he added.

Peace Process

Sudan, backed by the Arab League and the African Union, has argued that indicting a sitting head of state would jeopardize the peace process. Ibrahim said JEM will negotiate with the current government and any future government, while the ICC continues its work on a parallel track.

“We think justice and peace got to go hand in hand,” he said. “We are not going to trade one for the other.”

JEM spokesman Ahmed Hussain Adam said the rebel group is seeking an end to the “harassment and forced returns” of displaced people to their original homes, an end to air bombardments of civilians and an exchange of prisoners of war.

Only one rebel leader, Minni Minnawi, signed the Darfur Peace Agreement in 2006. Another major rebel leader, Abdulwahid El Nour, who heads a faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement, has said he won’t negotiate with the government until it ceases bombing raids in Darfur.

To contact the reporter on this story: Heba Aly in Cairo via Johannesburg atpmrichardson@bloomberg.net.
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Monday, 9 February 2009, report from Sudan Vision Daily by Mohammed Abdallah, Khartoum:
Darfurian Leaderships Attack Minnawi's Stance Over Doha Talks

Darfurian Leaderships within the government and outside lessened Senior Assistant to the President, Mini Arco Minnawi stances against the preliminary peace talks scheduled to take place in Doha between the government and JEM.

Prominent Darfuri figure, Farouq Ahmed Adam described Minnawi's statements and his stance on Doha talks as a reflection to several problems within Minnawi faction and the conflicts between his faction and the three Darfur State governors from one hand and the Darfuri people on the other hand.

Adam pointed out that the Doha agreement is distinguished from other agreement by its availing the chance for conducting the Darfuri/Darfuri dialogue which took place in Sudan People's Initiative Forum.

For his part, South Darfur Deputy Governor, Dr. Farah Mustafa, described Minnawi stance as unjustifiable, adding that his faction is not the only movement controlling Darfur, describing what is going on in Doha as a completion to peace in the whole Sudan in general and in Darfur in particular.

Western Darfur Minister of Culture, Sultan Hashim Osman Hashim described Minnawi's stance as singing out side the flock.
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Monday, 9 February 2009, report from Sudan Vision Daily by Mohammed Abdallah:
Darfur Transitional Authority Chairman Minnawi Hinders Peace Efforts

For the sake of achieving peace and security all over the country, Sudanese government left no stone unturned to enjoin the Abuja agreement. Non-signatories have been constantly urged to join the peace process in the country.

Nowadays there are active movements to hold talks between the government and JEM in Doha to break the ice and build confidences in preparation to enter peace talks.

Sudan Vision investigated several Darfur leaderships over the Doha negotiations and the rejection of Mini Arco Minnawi to that negotiations and his boycotting the talks describing it as a plot and accusing the UN/AU mediator as lacking transparency.

The Advantages of the Proposed Frame Agreement:
Dr. Farouq Ahmed Adam said that what distinguished Doha meeting is that it avails the chance for a Darfuri/Darfuri
conference to agree on the basic demands. He added that the Darfur issue is very complicated and needs more patience and reality in dealing with the issue.

Farouq said that what is needed in this stage is to reach a peace deal which requires from all the concerned parties to be flexible.

Reactions:
Farouq described Minnawi's stance per Doha meetings as a reflection to the conflicts within the faction and Minnawi's disputes with the governors in Darfur and the neighbouring countries.

Singing outside the flock
Western Darfur Minister of Culture described Minnawi as singing outside the flock while he has been assigned as the chairman of the peace and reconciliation in Darfur and now he is the first one to reject such reconciliation!

Hashim added that any statement against the main objective which is achieving of peace is rejected by the Darfuri people, calling for not personalization of issues.

Western Darfur State Presidential Commissioner, Hisham Norain described the boycott of Minnawi to Doha talks as serious.

Controlling the situations:
South Darfur Deputy Governor, Dr. Farah Mustafa said that Doha talks are a completion to peace building in Sudan in general and for Darfur in particular pointing out that Minnawi faction is not the only one in Darfur and that Minnawi's stance is unjustifiable.

Reconstruction of Stopping the Bloodsheds:
South Darfur ex-Deputy Governor, Adam Idris Al-Siliak said that any action that can lead to stop the bloodshed is commendable whatever form the agreement will take.
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Tuesday, 10 February 2009, report from Associated Press by Edith M. Lederer (United Nations):
Envoy: Sudan to seek peace even if warrant issued

Sudan's U.N. ambassador said Monday his government will pursue peace in Darfur even if the International Criminal Court issues an arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir for his alleged role in atrocities in the war-ravaged western province.

The world's first permanent war crimes tribunal is expected to announce its decision soon on the warrant requested last year by the court's chief prosecutor. The decision comes as talks between the Sudanese government and one of the two main rebel groups in Darfur get under way Tuesday.

"Our priority is for peace in Sudan," Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamed said in an interview with The Associated Press. "We will definitely pursue with vigor our national attempts and endeavors to achieve national reconciliation in Sudan and also lasting peace in Darfur."

Mohamed said an arrest warrant for the president would be "an insult to justice" because it would be politically motivated, aimed at changing the government in Sudan.

"We consider if it ever comes, it will be a dead and smelling rat," he said. "It will never shake our resolve in resisting this injustice inflicted on us. We are deeply hurt by trying to indict the symbol of our authority, our serving president. It's too much. It's crazy. That's why for us, it will mean nothing." [...]

Mohamed said the African Union is already starting talks at the United Nations to get Security Council support for a resolution that would delay action on a warrant for a year.

The statute that set up the International Criminal Court allows the council to pass a resolution to defer or suspend for a year the investigation or prosecution of a case. The council can renew such a resolution.

Representatives of the Afro-Arab Ministerial Committee on the Peace Process in Darfur, led by Qatar, and representatives from the African Union talked with Arab ambassadors at U.N. headquarters Monday, Mohamed said. They will also talk to African ambassadors and members of the 15-nation Security Council.

Mohamed said he had been scheduled to meet with new U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice on Monday but their talks were delayed until later in the week because of a Security Council briefing by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

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Monday, 9 February 2009, report by AFP (Doha - excerpt):
Mediators prepare new Darfur peace push

Mediators attempting to broker an end to the six-year war in Darfur met in the Qatari capital on Monday ahead of the first peace talks between the Sudanese government and the rebel Justice and Equality Movement since 2007.

The talks had been due to open on Monday evening but were put off until Tuesday after the arrival of some members of both delegations was delayed.

"We are waiting for the arrival of a nine-member delegation headed by presidential adviser Nafie Ali Nafie," Sudan's ambassador to Qatar, Abdullah al-Faqiri, told AFP.

JEM spokesman Ahmed Adam said some members of the rebel delegation had also been delayed and "will not arrive until late this evening after they were held up by engagements in Cairo."

Earlier, the mediators held a preparatory meeting "aimed at discussing and rendering the Darfur peace talks successful," they said in a joint statement.

The mediators included Arab League chief Amr Mussa, OIC secretary general Ekmeleddin Ihasanoglu, African Union commission chairman Jean Ping, Qatar's state minister for foreign affairs Ahmed bin Abdullah al-Mahmud and United Nations and African Union chief negotiator on Darfur Djibril Bassole.

Qatar was tasked by the Arab League and the African Union with hosting new peace negotiations between the Sudanese government and the rebels.

The Sudanese ambassador expressed optimism ahead of the talks.

"It is expected that a framework agreement will be signed tomorrow to end hostilities in Darfur," Faqiri told AFP. "The agreement is of a security and military nature."

But the rebels sounded a more pessimistic note.

"The delegation will not sign this agreement, and will present a clear proposition in the opening session," their spokesman said.

"These talks between the Khartoum government and the movement's delegation are to build trust between both sides.

"I am not optimistic about these talks," he said, adding that JEM negotiators would nonetheless enter them with an "open heart and mind."

Darfur rebels have been critical of Arab-led peace efforts, saying they were designed to save Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir from international court proceedings for alleged war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

Adam said that whatever the outcome of the case against Beshir, it should not be linked to the current talks. [...]
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Tuesday, 10 February 10 2009, report from Sudan Vision Daily by Al-Sammani Awadallah, Khartoum:
Nafie Addresses Doha Talks Today

Talks between the Sudanese government and JEM will convene today in Doha to pave way for full peace negotiations and would be attended by the joint UN/African Union mediator in Darfur Djibril Bassole and Qatari State Foreign Minister.

Government negotiation delegation chairman, Dr. Nafie Ali Nafie said that the negotiations with JEM will be also with other armed factions and will concentrate on ceasefire to pave the way for talks and negotiations.

Presidential Advisor, Abdallah Masar said that the talks which will start today will be addressed by Darfur File Official and Assistant to the President, Dr. Nafie Ali Nafie who will concentrate in the technical aspects after which a frame agreement will be signed on the issues discussed by the technical committees.

He affirmed that this step is considered a start for the direct talks between the government and JEM expecting that the negotiations will lead to a peace agreement to end the suffering in Darfur.

Observers expressed optimism over the success of this round to reach an agreement paving the way for achieving peace in Darfur, despite the rejection of several armed movements to take part in the talks.

Analyst Mohammed Mahjoub Haroun described Doha talks as a real start, but it needs the joining of the remaining armed factions in Darfur to that talks.

He said that it seems that the talks are well prepared for as they have international support which might lead to joining by the boycotting factions to the talks. He pointed that Bassole made shuttle movements in preparation to this round of talks.

JEM Legislative Council Speaker, Al-Tahir Al-Faki stated that Doha talks are considered as preliminary consultations aiming at breaking the ice and opening the way for negotiations. He added that this round would be part of the agreement's frame, pointing that it is the first step forward which will lead to the second.

It is to be noted that the mediation set yesterday as the start of the talks but due to the delay of JEM delegation in Cairo it has been postponed to commence today.
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Tuesday, 10 February 2009, report from The Peninsular, Qatar by Mohamed Saeed (Doha):
Mediators prepare for Darfur peace negotiations in Qatar

Mediators attempting to broker an end to the six-year war in Darfur met here yesterday on the eve of the first peace talks between the Sudanese government and the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) since 2007.

The talks were due to open yesterday evening but were put off until today after the arrival of some members of both delegations was delayed.

Qatar, under the umbrella of The Arab League, is sponsoring the preliminary talk that is expected to pave way for lasting peace in Sudan. The ‘Darfur Peace Talks’ between the Sudanese government and the JEM, that aims at resolving the Darfur’s crisis peacefully, will kick off at the Doha Sheraton today.

High-level officials representing Sudanese government and JEM will attend the conference. Envoys from Arab League, regional governments and Western countries have already arrived to attend the meeting.

A consultative meeting held here yesterday was attended by H E Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Amr Moussa, Arab League Secretary-General, Jean Ping, Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and Djbrill Bassole, UN/AU Joint-Chief mediator for Darfur.

The participants reiterated their commitment to work together in extending their full support to the efforts being exerted by the UN/AU Joint Chief Mediator and the State of Qatar to find a solution to the Darfur crisis and to restore peace and stability.

In a statement to the press, Al Mahmoud said that mediators comprising several experts and representatives of various agencies have formed several committees. Each committee will be in charge of a certain issue of conflict between the two parties.

“JEM is the only rebel group that is participating at the first round of the peace talks here. Other groups are expected to participate at the negotiations later,” said the minister.

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