A reconciliation conference between two feuding Arab tribes began yesterday with opening speeches in the town of Zalingei in West Darfur. Governor of West Darfur Jaafar Abdel Hakim Ishag arranged the conference. His counterpart from South Darfur, Governor Abdelhamid Musa Kasha, was also present as well as local commissioners and a delegation from the national government in Khartoum. There are 15 negotiators for each side. Mediators expect the actual negotiations between the two parties to begin on Saturday.Omda Yusef Isaag Al Nur, a spokesman of the Misseriya delegation, told Radio Dabanga that the head of the mediators – a Fur tribal leader named Dibingawi Sese – said they will start Saturday to resolve outstanding issues and see what should be brought to the table. Mediators will first try to build trust between the two sides before attempting to achieve an agreement. Governor Abdel Hakim said in remarks at the opening session that he will endorse and execute any recommendations resulting from the conference.
The UN-African Union Mission in Darfur sent its top official to the conference, Joint Special Representative Ibrahim Gambari. In a statement released by the mission today, he was quoted as saying “the recent resumption of tribal conflict between the Misseriya and Nawaiba [Rizeigat], as well as between rebel factions and Sudanese forces, has resulted in a number of civilian casualties in the area. In addition, the fighting has led to a disruption in basic services and loss of livestock which has severely affected people’s livelihood.”
(Photo: The opening session of the reconciliation conference in Zalingei on 3 June 2010, attended by UNAMID Joint Special Representative Ibrahim Gambari (center). UNAMID – Olivier Chassot.)