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Progress in uniting Darfur rebel groups

August 10 - 2009 TRIPOLI

All the fractured rebel movements of Darfur are coming together in August at two different locations. This week several of the leaders are gathering in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. On the 18th of August prominent Darfur leaders will meet in Addis Ababa, invited by the US Envoy Scott Gration. If this happens, it would be the first time after the failed peace negotiations in Abuja that the leaders of the main movements will meet each other face to face. Amongst the gathered leaders in Tripoli is Justice and Equality Movement leader Khalil Ibrahim (based in Chad and Darfur), while in Addis Ababa the leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement Abdel Wahid Al Nur (based in Paris) is expected to join.

The progress among various Darfur rebel factions this week has led to an unprecedented visit of several Darfurian leaders to the Libyan capital Tripoli for negotiations. The high-powered talks are aiming to unify the rebels from all the different breakaway factions. Among the leaders, Khalil Ibrahim who currently heads the most active military rebel force of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), will be visiting the capital at the same time as several prominent Sudanese officials arrive, including intelligence chief Salah Gosh and the official peace negotiator of the government Ghazi Saladin Atabani. Also the AU/UN-mediator for Darfur, Djibril Yipènè Bassolé will come to Libya. However, the JEM-spokesman told Radio Dabanga that Khalil Ibrahim will not speak to the Sudanese government officials; he will only talk to the peace negotiators.

In Libya eight groups are uniting under the leadership of the Darfurian Civil Society leaders, including former SAF-general and governor of Darfur, Ibrahim Suleiman, and Tijani Seisi, also a former governor Darfur and Ali Hassan Tajeldin, a former member of the state presidency of Sudan. Tijani Seisi told Radio Dabanga that he ‘is very optimistic to unite the rebel movements’ in Libya. He expects more results in a few days. He appealed through Radio Dabanga for support of all Darfurians and asks them ‘to unify and to join the peace negotiations to get the rights for all the Darfurians’.

A separate meeting in Addis Ababa is organized on the 18th of August by the Americans, trying to reconcile the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM). The SLM succeeded the Darfur Liberation Army and was headed by the Fur-leader Abdel Wahid al Nur. He is expected to come to Addis Ababa together with Abdel Shafi, Abdallah Yahya and Khamis Abakir. It is uncertain whether Minni Minnawi will participate in the unification talks. He was the only rebel leader who signed the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) in Abuja in 2006. The DPA was not implemented.

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