Friday, May 08, 2009

"Mandate Darfur" conference backed by Mo Ibrahim Foundation may be cancelled

Mo Ibrahim, the backer of "Mandate Darfur" conference says it may be cancelled due to opposition from Sudan.

Source: BBC report 8 May 2009 - Sudan invites expanded Darfur aid - excerpt:
The conference on Darfur that could now be cancelled was to bring together some 400 people from Darfur's diverse ethnic groups in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Pro-government groups as well as those close to Darfuri rebels were included.

Funded by Sudanese expatriate and telecoms entrepreneur Mo Ibrahim, it also had the backing of the UN, the African Union and the Arab League.

But Mr Ibrahim told the BBC that the process is now being held up by the Sudanese authorities.

He said delegates were being harassed, their passports withdrawn and that some have been warned they were engaging in activities against the state.

Unless the Sudanese government gave its permission, the conference would have to be abandoned, he added.

BBC Africa analyst Martin Plaut says work to prepare for the conference has been under way for nearly a year, and UN planes and helicopters were on standby to help airlift the delegates to Ethiopia.
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See Sudan Watch May 07, 2009 - Meeting of 350 Darfuris on May 12 in Addis Ababa for talks to produce "Mandate Darfur" backed by Mo Ibrahim's foundation - excerpt from The Economist:
Some hope is being invested in an initiative by civic groups in Darfur, backed by a foundation set up in London by Mo Ibrahim, a British mobile-phone tycoon of Sudanese origin. About 350 Darfuris are due to gather on May 12th in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, for five days of talks intended to produce what they are calling “Mandate Darfur”. This should outline what Darfuris would like to see in a peace deal with the Sudanese government in Khartoum. The meeting offers a chance for non-party Darfuris to circumvent the posturing of the score of fractious rebel groups that often stand for no one but themselves and invariably foster discord.
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See Sudan Tribune report May 08, 2009 by Tesfa-alem Tekle - Sudan’s Darfur civil society conference to be held in Ethiopia - copy:
May 7, 2009 (ADDIS ABABA) — Darfurian civil society organizations will come together in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, next week to agree on mandate for peace in their troubled region.

The initiative aims to give voice to the Darfurian people, as part of bringing lasting peace and security to the war torn Darfur region.

According to a statement released by Mandate Darfur the May 12-16 conference will bring together some 300 representatives from across the region, biggest ever assemble of the Darfurian civil society.

Therefore Darfurian delegates from across tribal, ethic, geographic and religious communities will debate the various political, economic and developmental issues in an effort to build a more sustainable peace to the region.

There is high expectation that their discussions would lead to an agreed mandate that provides building block for the future peace negotiations.

Mandate Darfur is a Darfurian-owned initiative which is being facilitated by the Mo-Ibrahim foundation, an African initiative established to stimulate debate on good governance across sub-Sahran Africa and the world to bring good leadership.

On behalf of Mandate Darfur, Mo Ibrahim, founder and chairman of the Mo Ibrahim foundation, said "we are pleased that the international community is coming in support of this important Darfurian civil society initiative."

"We know that without the consideration of the Darfurians themselves, no peace agreement will be sustainable or legitimate. It is our hope that the international community will continue to stand on the side of the Darfurian people when the Mandate emerges," he added.

The initiative is also said to be a direct response to the United Nations Security Council resolution 1828 (2008) which underlines the need for engagement of civil society, women and women led organizations, community groups and tribal leaders.

Following the conference, Mandate Darfur will work to deliver the agreed mandate around the world to ensure that leaders within Sudan, Africa and the wider world pursue the interests of the Darfurian people to find lasting peace to the region.

Scott Gration, president Obama’s special Envoy to Sudan, said, "I believe strongly that solutions to the present conflict in Darfur must come from Darfurians themselves. Your efforts and the broad representation of civil society you plan to gather in Ethiopia will play an important role in adding more momentum to our mutual goal of peace and security in Darfur."

Demonstrating the breadth of support for this initiative, Mandate Darfur was also welcomed by endorsement of Amr Moussa, Secretary General of the Arab League. Moussa said of the initiative, "It gives me great pleasure to welcome your important initiative in this regard, and I would like to express the Arab League’s total readiness to cooperate… in order to ensure a positive role for the representatives and components of the Darfur civil society in the settlement of the crisis and mending the social texture in Darfur."

Furthermore European Union backed this civil society solution to the Darfur crisis. European Union commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Louis Michel said, "International efforts have hitherto tended to focus on the Government and armed groups rather than on the civil having taken the conscious decision not to take up arms. I therefore welcome your initiative, which addresses this weakness and raises awareness among the conflicting parties of the concerns of the people of Darfur."

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