Darfur civil society conference begins in Doha
The ‘All-Darfur Stakeholders Conference’ began in Doha yesterday with the participation of more than 400 delegates. The opening speeches were given by the Qatari mediator, Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud, and the Joint Chief Mediator, Djibril Bassolé, with the two affirming the necessity of achieving peace in Darfur.
The ‘All-Darfur Stakeholders Conference’ began in Doha yesterday with the participation of more than 400 delegates. The opening speeches were given by the Qatari mediator, Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud, and the Joint Chief Mediator, Djibril Bassolé, with the two affirming the necessity of achieving peace in Darfur.The conference, which will end on Tuesday, aims to address outstanding issues in the Darfur-Sudan negotiations, such as power-sharing, wealth-sharing, human rights and freedoms, victims’ compensation, land ownership and women’s participation in the peace process. Participants will also discuss the issues of the refugees and displaced people and their return, the administrative status of Darfur, and justice.
“The conference is not a substitute to negotiations, but the conference will definitely create the base so that the parties can adhere to it, discuss further and sign,” said the Joint Chief Mediator.
One conference participant, Mohammed Ibrahim Nugud, the secretary-general of the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP), said that that they would propose solutions to the Darfur crisis for discussion at the conference. Nugud also expressed his confidence in providing reasonable opportunities for reaching to a compromise in stopping the war. Other opposition party leaders participating include Dr. Hassan Al Turabi. The national Umma party refused to participate in the Doha conference. In a statement released by the party, it said that it appreciated the invitation made by the mediators but that, at the same time, it saw that the invitation as poorly timed. The party called on all the people of Darfur to stand behind a national agenda to find solutions for the lasting peace, stability and unity of the country.
Dr. Omar Adam Rahma, the official spokesman of the government delegation, called on the conference to adopt the results of the negotiations and the peace document, once it is presented by the mediators. He stated that he believed that the document would provide permanent solutions to the Darfur crisis.
Rebel factions expressed doubt at the authenticity of the ‘civil society’ representation. The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) considered that 90% of the participants represented the government with the absence of real stakeholders. Ahmed Tugud Lisan, the chief negotiator of the movement, said in an interview with Radio Dabanga that the forum was a forum of the National Congress Party. According to the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), the governor of South Darfur interfered to prevent the arrival of 16 delegates form the state. Tajeldin Niam, the chief negotiator of the movement, told Radio Dabanga that the movement made contact with the government and the UNAMID envoy to guarantee the arrival of the detained representatives. The arrest of the coordinator of civil society groups in South Darfur, Mohammed Ahmed Ismail, was also condemned by Ahmed Tugud.
The Sudan Liberation Movement of Minni Arko Minawi, which has never joined the Doha peace talks, called on to the civil society groups to ‘do their duty,’ to warn the negotiators not to sign any peace agreement at the present time. In an interview with Radio Dabanga, Minawi said that a chance should be given for continuing the dialogue that is going on among the movements now. His faction recently signed an understanding with SLM-Abdel Wahid – which also rejects the Doha talks – marking the first serious sign of rapprochement since the 2006 split in the SLM.