SUDAN WATCH: Darfur Sudan peace talks: SLM leader Abdelwahid Nur agrees to Doha, Qatar consultation

Friday, July 09, 2010

Darfur Sudan peace talks: SLM leader Abdelwahid Nur agrees to Doha, Qatar consultation

GOOD NEWS. French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner says in a statement that the leader of the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), Abdelwahid Nur, "confirmed his intention to actively contribute to the peace process in Darfur, personally and via the intermediary of his representatives."

Nur, the Paris-based head of SLM who previously dismissed the Doha talks as "ceremonial," has now decided to support the process, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said on Friday (09 July).

Nur said he met Qatari minister of state for foreign affairs Ahmad al-Mahmood in Paris on Thursday.

"We thanked the Qataris for the efforts they are making. The only new thing is that we agreed to continue consulting," Nur told Reuters, speaking by phone from his base in Paris.

Kouchner praised Al-Nur on Friday for "betting on peace" and said his "new position" resulted from months of discussions between him and French government officials.

SLM leader Abdelwahid Nur

Photo: Nur had previously refused to enter peace talks with Khartoum (AFP)

AFP report re Liberty and Justice Movement (LJM)

Darfur's newly formed rebel Liberty and Justice Movement is set to seal a peace deal with Khartoum, even though it enjoys little backing on the ground in the war-torn Sudanese region.

Still in its infancy, the LJM is the only rebel faction so far in talks with Sudan's government in the Qatari capital, from which two leading figures of the seven-year rebellion, Khalil Ibrahim and Abdelwahid Nur, have been absent.

But the LJM, an assortment of small dissenting factions cobbled together under Libyan and US auspices and led by Tijane Sese, already inked a preliminary deal with Khartoum in March, and is likely to seal the agreement in Doha next week.

Unlike Ibrahim's Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), which agreed a ceasefire with Khartoum in February that soon disintegrated amid new fighting, the LJM has no military presence and commands little loyalty in the region.

Such is its lack of organisation there that the United Nations and African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur arranged for Darfuris displaced in the war to meet LJM representatives in Qatar.

"It is sort of match-making, to connect the LJM and the IDPs (internally displaced people) and see if it can work between them," said one diplomat about the meeting.

Four hundred Darfur civil society representatives are expected to fly to the Gulf state next week for the coming meeting.

"The goal is to establish a social base for the LJM, and it would also prepare for better acceptance of what could be signed," Djibril Bassole, the joint UN and AU Darfur mediator, told AFP.

The LJM's Sese, a former Darfur governor and Fur tribal leader in Ethiopian exile since the 1990s, said in a telephone interview that the region's displaced needed to be consulted on any peace deal.

"Any peace agreement must take account of the displaced and refugees. A complete peace must allow their return to their villages," he said, adding they would need compensation.

"It is necessary to discuss the stakes with the displaced and refugees," he said.

Darfur peace talks in Doha, Qatar

Photo: The Liberty and Justice Movement believes any peace agreement must involve the return of refugees (AFP)

SOURCE: Full details below followed by latest news round-up from SRS - Sudan Radio Service.

UPDATE 1-Darfur rebel agrees to Qatar consultation
From Reuters - Friday, 09 July 2010 6:03pm GMT
(Reporting by Andrew Heavens in Khartoum and John Irish in Paris, editing by Mark Trevelyan):
KHARTOUM July 9 (Reuters) - An exiled Darfur rebel leader said on Friday he had agreed to consultations with Qatari officials who are brokering peace talks with Sudan's government, but made clear that did not mark a move towards full negotiations.

Paris-based Abdel Wahed Mohamed al-Nur has refused to sit down with Khartoum since he walked out of peace talks in 2006, demanding a return to security on the ground before negotiations.

Any sign of willingness to take part in new discussions will please mediators who have grown increasingly frustrated with Nur's refusal to join talks, despite pressure from Washington, other powers and activists.

Nur's Sudan Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/M) was one of two Darfur insurgent groups that rebelled in 2003, demanding more autonomy for their arid western region.

The conflict has rumbled on for seven years, during which there have been a series of failed ceasefires and attempts to get the warring parties together -- most recently hosted by Qatar's government in its capital Doha.

Nur said he met Qatari minister of state for foreign affairs Ahmad al-Mahmood in Paris on Thursday.

"We thanked the Qataris for the efforts they are making. The only new thing is that we agreed to continue consulting," Nur told Reuters, speaking by phone from his base in Paris.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who said he also met Nur on Thursday, said the rebel leader's new engagement marked an important step forward in the peace process after months of talks with Nur in Paris.

Nur "confirmed his intention to work actively in the peace process in Darfur, personally and through his representatives," Kouchner said in a statement on Friday. "I am glad he finally decided to bet on peace."

Nur appeared to play down the significance of the Qatari engagement, telling Reuters the new consultations would cover his ongoing reasons for refusing to go to the talks including reports of continued attacks by government troops and militias on rebels and civilians.

"We are not going to Doha unless there is security ... And at the moment the security situation is getting worse and worse."

Violence has spiked in Darfur since the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the other group that rebelled in 2003, suspended participation in the Doha talks in early May.

Khartoum is currently negotiating with the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), an umbrella group of small factions dismissed as largely bogus by JEM.
French foreign minister: Sudan rebel leader agrees to join peace efforts for Darfur
By The Associated Press (CP) – Friday, 09 July 2010:
PARIS — France's foreign minister says a Paris-based Sudanese rebel leader has agreed to back peace talks for Darfur.

Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner says in a statement that the leader of the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement, Abdelwahid Elnur, "confirmed his intention to actively contribute to the peace process in Darfur, personally and via the intermediary of his representatives."

Kouchner praised Elnur on Friday for "betting on peace" and said his "new position" resulted from months of discussions between him and French government officials.

Qatar has been hosting peace talks on Darfur. The U.N. estimates that 300,000 people have died as a result of violence, disease and displacement since fighting began between rebels in Darfur and the government in 2003.

Darfur rebel agrees to Qatar consultation

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News round-up from SRS - Sudan Radio Service:

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