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Controversy ahead of government-led Darfur conference

July 9 - 2012 EL FASHER

Refugee leaders and Darfur opposition criticized a conference that will take place in El Fasher on Tuesday which is meant to support the peace agreement of last July 2011. The critics say that the Darfur Regional Authority (DRA) selected only pro-government and LJM-affiliated displaced people to represent them during the Darfur-Darfur conference. The conference starting Tuesday in El Fasher is supposed to attract support for the Doha Agreement signed by the Sudanese government and the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM). Participants are invited from Khartoum and the five states of Darfur. They will be joined by the Qatari mediator, regional and international organizations and the top UN envoy. The Vice President of Sudan, Ali Osman Mohammed Taha, will speak during the inaugural session of the Darfur conference, according to a statement by the Darfur Regional Authority

Sheikhs and activists of various camps in Darfur were surprised to find the DRA selected representatives of the camps without consulting them first. They claim that although the selection was supposed to be made by the sheikh's of the camps they received no official invitation to participate. 

An IDP told Radio Dabanga “whoever participates in the conference represents only himself”. 

The coordinator of the camps in Zalingei in central Darfur told Radio Dabanga “we will not attend the Darfur-Darfur conference and we denounce the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD)”. He warned the LJM movement not to speak on the behalf of the IDPs, adding that it is not the time for meaningless conferences, he said “the Sudanese people need to co-operate to topple the government of Khartoum”.

Meanwhile the DRA and LJM denied accusations of meddling in the selection of the IDP camp representatives. Ahmed Fadel, state minister of the Council of Ministers also denied the accusations and described them as “invalid” in a statement to Radio Dabanga. 

Tijane Sese, leader of the LJM, stated that the conference is not an attempt to replace the Darfur-Darfur dialogue. Rather, the aim of the conference is to unite the efforts of all Darfuri citizens in order to create and serve the greater good of the country. 

The Darfur rebel forces SLM Abdel Wahid and SLM Minni Minnawi issued a statement rejecting the conference describing it as a conspiracy against the Darfur people. They stated that “this conference does not offer any long term solutions. Since the signing of the Doha Agreement the security situation in Darfur has gone from bad to worse. The region of Darfur is plagued by famine, price hikes and its citizens lack water, electricity and medical service”.

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