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Mediator postpones Darfur civil society meeting as Sudanese official meets rebel leader

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January 17, 2010 (NDJAMENA) - The Joint Chief Mediator for the Darfur peace process, Djibril Bassole, has delayed a meeting between rebel groups and civil society representatives after a three day meeting with the Justice and Equality Movement in the Chadian capital.

A picture released on Wednesday Nov 18, 2009 by the Qatari News Agency of the official inauguration session of Drafur civil society consultations in Doha The decision comes after a meeting between the Sudanese Presidential Adviser Ghazi Salah Al-Deen Attabani - who is in charge of the Darfur dossier - and JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim.

A meeting of Darfur rebel groups and civil society had been scheduled in Doha for Monday the 18th. Such a consultation is seen by the mediation as a necessary step after a meeting for the civil society representatives held last November in Doha.

However, the main rebel groups were not willing to meet civil society groups, labeling them "supporters of the ruling National Congress Party," and asking the mediation to include representatives of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from different camps that had boycotted the Doha consultation, besides also refugees in eastern Chad and the Diaspora.

Bassole will pay soon a visit to 12 camps in eastern Chad for some 250,000 refugees from Sudan's war-torn Darfur region. The mediation teams will supervise the selection of their representatives to participate in the meeting with the rebels and the peace process.

However, Ahmed Hussein Adam, the official spokesperson of the rebel JEM, told Sudan Tribune from Ndjamena that a delegation from their movement will arrive Monday to Doha anyway to meet representatives of the international community and institutions who will discuss in a separate meeting the ongoing efforts to end the conflict.

Speaking about the meetings they held with the chief mediator, Ahmed said they discussed the issue of the civil society, but also expressed the need for the mediation to distance itself from "external interferences carried on by some countries and institutions".

"These interferences should be stopped because it affects negatively the efforts of the mediation," the rebel official said.

Libya, Egypt and the United States have supported different initiatives to reunite the rebel groups and organized meetings to achieve this purpose. Also recently the African Union worked up a plan led by South Africa's fromer President Thabo Mbeki to seek a holistic approach to end the different political crises in the country including Darfur.

Ghazi Salah Al-Deen last December pledged to create a conducive environment before the peace talks with the rebel groups. The Sudanese official was in Doha for talks with the mediation on the expected peace talks.

Ahmed said, though, there are unreported daily bombardments carried out by the Sudanese warplanes on their positions in Jebel Moon, in West Darfur. "There is no suitable atmosphere for talks," he said.

GHAZI MEETS WITH KHALIL

Following a meeting with the Chadian President Idris Deby on January 8, the Sudanese Presidential Adviser returned to Ndjamena last Friday where he met with JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim.

The meeting was initiated by President Deby - who agreed to prevent the presence of the Sudanese rebels in the Chadian territory - and the Joint Mediator Bassole, in preparation for a new round of peace talks scheduled for January 24. The meeting was addressed by Djibril Bassole and the Chadian Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mohamat.

However, JEM Spokesman Ahmed Hussein Adam minimized the importance of the meeting saying they reiterated their positions on the talks and their vision for a lasting peace agreement.

The Sudanese official pledged to send a written response to the rebel group before January 24, the date of the peace talks in Doha. The rebel spokesman reiterated JEM's commitment to the Doha peace process saying they are resolved to keep doing consultations with the mediator in order to reach a lasting but comprehensive and just peace agreement.

He also stressed the need to not confuse the main rebel movements with individuals turned "movements" by some countries to hinder the achievement of peace in Darfur.

Speaking last November before the UN Security Council, Djibril Bassole had stressed that the two main rebel groups in Darfur should be the cornerstone of a comprehensive peace agreement supported by Darfur civil society.