‘Pre-Dialogue unlikely to take place’: Darfur rebel leader

The AU mediators have sent a proposal to the Sudanese government and opposition groups about the pre-Dialogue meeting planned to be held soon in Addis Ababa. Rebel leader Dr Jibril Ibrahim doubts if the meeting will take place.

The African Union High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), headed by Thabo Mbeki, has sent a proposal to the Sudanese government and opposition groups concerning the procedures of the pre-Dialogue meeting planned to be held soon in the Ethiopian capital. Dr Jibril Ibrahim, head of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) doubts if the meeting will take place.

The AU mediation team proposes to invite eight representatives of the Sudanese government and eight of the armed and civil opposition forces. Members of the National Consensus Forces and the Civil Society Initiative will not be invited.

In an interview with Radio Dabanga to be broadcast today, JEM leader Jibril Ibrahim said that the SRF has objected to the proposal as “too many important opposition parties are excluded”.

He added that the proposal also contradicts the statements of the 539th meeting of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AUPSC) held on 25 August, in which the Council called for an “urgent pre-National Dialogue meeting of all relevant parties, at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, to discuss and agree on procedural matters relating to the Dialogue”.

Ibrahim expressed his belief that the Addis Ababa pre-National Dialogue meeting will not take place, “because of the government's original refusal to hold such a meeting abroad”. He added that the AUHIP will have to report to the AUPSC on the matter before the 20th of this month.

The JEM leader further confirmed that the AUHIP chairman invited the JEM and the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Minni Minawi (SLM-MM) for a two-day informal meeting with the Sudanese government in the Ethiopian capital, to be determined later.

The meeting will discuss the cessation of hostilities, as well as “anything else the parties see necessary within the limited time”.

However, Ibrahim added, the government delegation was not interested to discuss a cessation of hostilities during the former negotiation round last November; not for Darfur nor the Two Areas (South Kordofan and the Blue Nile).

“If they changed their position and are now truly willing to negotiate a cessation of hostilities, we are ready for it,” he stated.

Next week, the leaders of the three main Darfur armed movements and representatives of the Qatar government will meet in the French capital “to discuss and exchange views on solving the problems of Darfur”.

Minawi told Radio Dabanga on Tuesday that “the Qataris have decided to sit with us next week in Paris for a dialogue about what is happening in Darfur and what Qatar’s role is to be in Darfur”.