Darfur rebels, Khartoum to discuss pre-negotiation deal in Germany

(UPDATED 14:22) The Sudanese government and two armed Darfuri movements are expected to meet in Germany to discuss a pre-negotiation agreement. This deal would pave the way for talks on a ceasefire before moving on to negotiations on peace and political issues.

Rebel leaders Minni Arko Minawi (L) and Jibril Ibrahim (M) at a meeting of the Sudan Call in Paris, 2017. At their left is Yasir Arman, deputy head of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North faction led by Malik Agar (RD)

(UPDATED 14:22) The Sudanese government and two armed Darfuri movements are expected to meet in Germany to discuss a pre-negotiation agreement. This deal would pave the way for talks on a ceasefire before moving on to negotiations on peace and political issues.

The German special envoy for peace called on the Sudanese government, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Minni Minawi (SLM-MM) to meet in Berlin on April 16 and 17, to reach a pre-negotiation agreement.

Dr Jibril Ibrahim, head of the JEM, said in an interview with Radio Dabanga that the idea of the meeting was put forward in May 2017, when peace talks were stalled and hindered any progress in the negotiations between the two parties.

In an attempt to revive the peace negotiations between the Darfur armed movements and Khartoum, the German government has invited the parties for informal consultations several times. Negotiations, under the auspices of the AUHIP collapsed as the government insisted on the 2011 Doha Document for Peace in Darfur as the basis for the talks, while the rebel movements have categorically rejected this agreement signed by Khartoum and a coalition of Darfur breakaway groups.

Last July, the German special envoy to Sudan called on the two movements to meet in Berlin to discuss future peace negotiations with Khartoum, to revive the peace process and address the humanitarian situation in Sudan’s conflict zones. There have been several attempts to revive the talks by preparing an agenda, including sessions in Paris, France, in September 2017 and discussions in Germany.

Invitation Sudan Call

Ibrahim said that the Berlin meeting would be attended by the Troika countries of the UK, US and Norway, as well as France, representatives of the European Union and the head of the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (Unamid).

“The two armed movements proposed to the German envoy to also invite the Sudan Call and other armed movements to participate as observers at the meeting.” The Sudan Call, a coalition of Sudanese opposition parties and civil society members, has recently received charges from the State Security Prosecution service “for dealing and coordinating with rebel armed movements to overthrow the regime.”

So far the National Umma Party (NUP) rejected the complaint filed by the Sudanese security service against its leader, Imam El Sadig El Mahdi – who has recently been elected chairman of the Sudan Call – and other leading members of the alliance.

The NUP said in a press statement that the opposition party will take “several necessary measures to protect its institutions and leadership against the crimes of the regime and will vigorously pursue these measures”.

According to the statement, the Sudan Call is a civil political alliance of which documents from its establishment onwards confirm that it pursues a peaceful path and offers nonviolent resistance to realise its goals.

Popular uprising’

The call is a two-page political communiqué calling for regime-change and democracy and was signed by representatives of the NUP, the National Consensus Forces (NCF, a coalition of opposition parties), the Civil Society Initiative, and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF, an alliance of the main rebel movements), in Addis Ababa on 3 December 2014. Other Sudanese opposition groups and parties joined them in the following year.

In March this year the group convened in the French capital. They agreed on mobilising the people in Sudan for a popular uprising. At the same time, the allied opposition forces will respond to initiatives of the international community and the African Union to revive the roadmap for the Sudanese peace talks based on AU resolutions.

The Umma Party’s statement pointed out that the armed movements in the alliance confirm the priority of a peaceful solution and that they will respond to peace dialogues.

“The Sudanese regime is selective in its targeting of political opposition.” Sudan Call leader Minni Minawi

In a new statement by the secretary-general of the Sudan Call today, rebel leader Minawi stressed that the charges filed against El Mahdi and other members may carry the death penalty:

“It must be remembered that the Sudan Call, founded in December 2014, is a political platform, encompassing Sudan’s opposition political formations and civil society. […] It is clear that the regime is not consistent in its policies and actions and is selective and prejudiced in its targeting of the political opposition.

“… the NISS and the NCP regime have intentionally interpreted the documents in its own malicious way, so as to incriminate the regime’s political opponents.”