The mainstream Sudan Liberation Movement, headed by Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW), has declined the invitation of Thabo Mbeki, chairman of the AU High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), for a meeting with the Sudan Appeal forces in Addis Ababa next Friday.
In an interview with Radio Dabanga, to be broadcast today, the Darfuri rebel leader said that he will not attend the meeting, “because the AU mechanism is calling for negotiations that will end up with the distribution of positions, while the SLM-AW prioritises a comprehensive and just peace.
“The position of the SLM-AW regarding the peace process is clear. The ending of the wars, disarmament of the paramilitaries and other militiamen, trial of the offenders, and the restoration of public freedoms in all parts of the country are prerequisites. We will not negotiate anything else before these demands have been met.”
The Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebel alliance, the National Umma Party, the opposition parties coalition of the National Consensus Forces, and the Civil Society Initiative signed the Sudan Appeal, a political communiqué calling for regime-change, in Addis Ababa in December last year.
The Sudan Appeal signatories proposed to merge the peace negotiations on Darfur and the Two Areas (South Kordofan and the Blue Nile) with a broad national dialogue, to be held under the auspices of the AUHIP outside Sudan.
Mbeki visited Khartoum early this month to discuss the proposal. The government however adhered to its rejection of the merger as well as to hold a national dialogue abroad. It is willing to agree on a ceasefire for the Two Areas. As for Darfur, Khartoum keeps to its stance that the remaining rebel movements should join the 2011 Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD).
He invited 15 leaders of the Sudan Appeal for a two-day meeting in the Ethiopian capital at the end of this week to discuss their stances on the current stalemate.
Regarding the meeting between the acting head of Unamid and the three Darfuri holdout rebel movements (the SLM-AW, the Justice and Equality Movement, and the SLM faction led by Minni Minawi) in Paris last weekend, El Nur emphasised the need of “a conducive climate for the peace negotiations to commence”.
“Before addressing the root causes of the conflicts and reach a peace accord, the militias need to be disarmed, the new settlers who are increasingly occupying our lands expelled, individual and collective compensation must have been paid to the displaced, and the public freedoms have to be restored.”
“We are talking about a comprehensive peace, which begins with security and stability, and ends with democratic change,” he stressed, and added that the Darfuri rebel leaders agreed with Abiodun Bashua, the acting head of Unamid on a number of follow-up meetings.
Bashua is expected to also consult with the Sudanese government, the AUHIP, and negotiators in Qatar that is sponsoring the Doha peace agreement.
Unamid assumed the mediation with the non-signatory Darfuri rebel movements after they refused to join the DDPD. Last year however, after consultations with the SRF, the AUHIP sought to include the Darfur issue in a comprehensive peace process.
The AUHIP is tasked with brokering the peace talks between Khartoum and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North, on the Two Areas (South Kordofan and the Blue Nile).