The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Qatar, Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud, said that the negotiations over Darfur will resume in the first week of June. The peace mediators confirmed that Qatar sent travel documents to the chairman of the Justice and Equality Movement, Khalil Ibrahim, and to the other leaders of the movement, empowering them to travel to Doha to participate in the negotiations. The passports of Ibrahim and his entire entourage had been destroyed last week by Chadian authorities as the rebel leaders attempted to re-enter Chad through the Ndjamena airport.
Despite the invitation from the Qatari government, JEM still refuses to participate at the Doha talks, whereas the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) led by Tigani Sese agrees to participate. Dr. Ghazi Salah Eddin, Adviser to the Sudanese President and the government official in charge of the Darfur issue, arrived in Khartoum from Doha today. He stated that it is possible to reach a peace agreement on Darfur in June. But he remarked that the Justice and Equality Movement is not serious about negotiating, instead preferring to work militarily.
On the other hand, a spokesman for the JEM, Ahmed Hussein, told Radio Dabanga that the Darfur file is managed by the security service and the Sudanese army, so he questioned why Ghazi Salah Eddin should even talk about it. He said that the head of the movement will travel to Darfur, not to Doha, and the joint mediation is responsible for facilitating that.
For its part, the Liberation and Justice Movement affirmed that it is ready to negotiate in the coming month, but it denied that it would sign a peace agreement during the first round, as the government had claimed. LJM Deputy Secretary General Hashem Hamad told Radio Dabanga that the movement refuses to comply with deadlines.
Qatar also yesterday hosted Sudan’s Umma Party leader, Sadiq al-Mahdi. According to newspaper reports, thus far unconfirmed, he met with either the country’s leader or a cabinet official. The Sudanese opposition party leader also recently visited other Arab states including Egypt. However, he did not meet with the mediation team handling the negotiations over Darfur.
In another development, more than 24 associations of Darfuri in the United States yesterday sent a memorandum to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, US envoy Scott Gration and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan criticizing the mediation team. They said that the mediators are “serving, knowingly or not, as tools to the Government of Sudan to suppress the Darfuri cause.” The statement said “There are numerous indicators that lead us to believe that the international community is no longer diligently seeking a just political solution to the conflict in Darfur.”
“In the last seven years we have seen the international mediators press the Darfuri factions to compromise and give up [nothing] in return,” said the diaspora organizations. They also called on the United States to review its policy toward Sudan and support the International Criminal Court, and also condemned the presence of representatives of the United Nations and African Union at the inauguration of President al-Bashir in Khartoum today.
(Photo: Earlier this year Sudan signed framework peace agreements with two rebel movements, LJM and JEM, but further negotiations were suspended due to the 11-15 April election)