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Mediators propose Darfur Authority, announce major diplomatic effort

January 2 - 2011 By Radio Dabanga -- DOHA

The international mediators of the Darfur conflict proposed the establishment of a regional authority with broad powers, as a compromise between the status quo of three state governments and the rebels’ demand of unification into a single province. The mediators also announced a ministerial diplomatic meeting on Thursday, 6 January, alongside a meeting of the Special Envoys of the European Union, the United States, China, France, Russia and the United Kingdom.

These developments may represent a major diplomatic effort to counter the apparent set-backs suffered by the peace process due to the recent fighting in eastern Darfur and President Bashir’s order last week to withdraw the Sudanese government delegation from Doha.

Radio Dabanga learnt from sources in Doha that the mediation has proposed the establishment of the Regional Authority for a period of 5 years. The proposal will be part of the text of the peace deal that the mediators are finalizing. By its terms, the Darfur Regional Authority would not replace the state governments but rather would be charged with implementing the proposed peace deal in the key areas of security, social and economic development, and re-integration of displaced persons.

On Friday evening at the Doha Sheraton, on the very day that the Government of Sudan had withdrawn its delegation from Doha, the top Qatari mediator announced that peace negotiations on Darfur would continue in Doha. Qatari Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud said this at a news conference with UN-African Union Joint Mediator Djbril Bassolé. He added that the two diplomats’ meetings will be held Thursday in Doha, one for an Arab-African ministerial committee on Darfur, and another for the special envoys. Al Mahmoud said that these meetings will be a prelude to the completion of the ‘comprehensive peace’ document, which he said will be signed soon. He said that an UN mechanism will be formed for implementation of the agreement.

Taj El Din Niam, chief negotiator of the Liberation and Justice Movement, said that the rebel group will hold a press conference on Monday in Doha, under the chairmanship of Tijani Sese, to respond to the proposals of the mediation and make clear its position.

The mediation have identified an amount between $ 400 and $600 million to be allocated for compensation to families of victims of atrocities. Integration of rebel forces is supposed to occur within 45 days, and commissions established under the Abuja Agreement’s Regional Authority are to be transferred to the ministries. National courts – rather than any international tribunals – will be established.

Commenting on these developments, the Justice and Equality Movement spokesman Ahmed Hussein Adam described the proposals of the mediation as a dressed-up version of the Abuja Agreement. He said JEM has nothing at all to do with these proposals because it hasn’t been approached by the mediation regarding them.

For his part, a leader of the displaced people (IDPs) in Darfur called the mediation’s proposal to establish the Regional Authority a repeat of the Abuja experience, which ended up in the dismissal of Minni Minawi from the head of the Transitional Authority that was established by that agreement, and his replacement with Al Shartai Jaafar Abdel-Hakim. The IDP leader also belittled the government's stated intention to present the final mediated peace proposal to a Darfuri congress of civil society and IDP leaders. He said this was a way to circumvent the “legitimate demands of the people of Darfur” because all of the real leaders of the IDPs are either imprisoned or hunted [and therefore would be unable to participate in such a consultation].

An opposition politician and former member of the ruling party described the Doha Forum as focused wrongly on the problems of Darfur alone. Dr. Ali Al Hajj Mohamad, Deputy Secretary-General of the Popular Congress Party said the problem is not a problem with Darfur, but rather a problem with the center (Khartoum). Speaking to Radio Dabanga from his residence in Germany, he identified the withdrawal of the government delegation back to Khartoum as the collapse of the negotiations, and he blamed the mediators.

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