SUDAN WATCH: Qatar's prime minister says Sudan gov't and JEM have made "progress" in Doha talks

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Qatar's prime minister says Sudan gov't and JEM have made "progress" in Doha talks

Sudan's government and Darfur rebel group Justice and Equality Movement have made "progress" in meetings this week in Doha, their first peace contacts since 2007, according to Qatar's prime minister.

The two parties "want positive results and (have expressed) their good intentions. There is progress," Premier Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani told a news conference very late Friday after a lengthy day of negotiations between the two parties under Qatari mediation.

Doha talks are preliminary and intended to pave the way for a broader peace conference on Darfur, W. Sudan.

Source: February 13, 2009 report from AFP (DOHA):
'Progress' in talks between Sudan and Darfur rebels: PM -
Sudan's government and Darfur rebel group Justice and Equality Movement have made "progress" in meetings this week in Doha, their first peace contacts since 2007, according to Qatar's prime minister.

The two parties "want positive results and (have expressed) their good intentions. There is progress," Premier Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani told a news conference very late Friday after a lengthy day of negotiations between the two parties under Qatari mediation.

"This progress will be reflected in a draft document now in its final stages of preparation (by mediators)," he added.
Once completed, the document would be submitted to the two parties for comment, the prime minister added without elaborating.

He said the talks were due to continue on Saturday.

The meetings, which began in the Qatari capital on Tuesday, are aimed at paving the way for substantive peace negotiations between Khartoum and the Justice and Equality Movement.

JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim and the head of the government delegation, presidential aide Nafie Ali Nafie, on Wednesday held their first face-to-face talks, which were described by parties afterwards as "positive."

The most heavily armed of the Darfur rebel groups, JEM boycotted a largely abortive peace deal signed by one other faction in 2006 and in May last year launched an unprecedented assault on the Sudanese capital.

JEM representative Jibril Ibrahim said at the start of the talks that broader peace negotiations would only be possible if the government was prepared to accept the winding up of allied Arab militias in Darfur and allow high-level rebel representation in the central government.

He said confidence-building measures should include the release of JEM prisoners and the expansion of aid deliveries to rebel-held areas.

He said the rebel group would expect to "retain its fighters during a transition period ahead of a final peace deal which would provide for their integration in the regular army."

JEM also wanted to secure "a reduction in government troop numbers, the dismantling of the militias and high-level participation in the central government in Khartoum."

Government negotiator Nafie for his part renewed "Sudan's determination to continue down the path of peace."

Mediators have stressed that the Doha talks are preliminary and intended to pave the way for a broader peace conference on Darfur.[...]
Khalil Ibrahim in Doha

Photo: Khalil Ibrahim, during the Darfur Peace Talks, in Doha, Feb 11, 2009 (AP via ST)

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