Darfur mediators to submit final draft peace agreement on 27 April

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April 19, 2011 (DOHA) — Darfur peace mediators are preparing to submit a final draft peace agreement in the last week of April to the Sudanese government and the two rebel groups participating in the talks, said a statement released in Doha on Tuesday.

The mediation, since January, is struggling to achieve some progress in the talks stalled by pressures from the Sudanese government which seek to hold a parallel internal process and the rebel groups who refuse to sign a peace deal that does not give Darfur a regional authority.

Yesterday a group of the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) entered in dissidence against their leader threatening the fragile balance of the ongoing efforts to end the eight-year armed rebellion in Darfur through a negotiated agreement.

The Joint Chief Mediator Djibril Bassole and the Qatari state minister for foreign affairs Ahmed bin Abdullah Al-Mahmoud on 18 April informed the three parties that the mediation "will submit to the Parties on 27 April 2011 a draft text of a peace document for their final consideration". It further urged them to "expedite" the direct talks over the pending issues.

The letter was addressed to Amin Hassan Omer head of Sudanese government delegation, Tijani El-Sissi, LJM leader and Mohamed Bahar Ali Hamadain, a vice-president of Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) who leads the rebel delegation in Doha.

The two rebel groups consider the administrative status of the region as the most important disputed issue. Nonetheless, LJM and the government delegations have achieved important progress on the remaining files while many issues remain unresolved in the talks between JEM and Khartoum.

LJM top negotiator, Tadjadine Beshir Niam, told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday they might conclude the direct negotiations with the government even before the deadline determined by the mediation.

"We are optimistic and we might reach an agreement over all the remaining issues including the Darfur administrative make up before the 27 April," he said. "This would facilitate the job of the all Darfur stakeholders conference" he added.

Two days ago the spokesperson of the government delegation alluded to a possible peace agreement with LJM in Doha. Omer Adam Rahma, on the other hand, ruled out the possibility of reaching a deal with JEM before the end of the month.

Following a presidential decree to hold a referendum on Darfur administrative future, JEM decided to stop the direct talks with Khartoum. But the mediation convinced the group to keep providing them with their positions on the different chapters of the a draft peace agreement.

Reacting to the deadline of 27 April, JEM invoked on Tuesday the impossibility to negotiate all the pending issues with the government during one week.

"We need to meet the mediation to determine the agenda of the meetings, and as we already said we want to discuss the administrative status first with the government," said JEM spokesperson Gibreel Adam Bilal.

Gibreel further said that the negative written comments made by the government on JEM observations over the Wealth Sharing Chapter indicate that it would be impossible to terminate before the 27 April.

"We will be only in the terms fixed by the mediation if the Sudanese government accepts all our positions," he said.

The rebel spokesperson pointed out that they will finalize their written position on the administrative status within two days.

"The mediation should create better conditions for the direct talks with the government," he stressed.

The mediation said the final draft peace agreement will include "Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms; Power Sharing and Administrative Status of Darfur; Wealth Sharing; Compensation, Return of IDPS and Refugees; Justice and Reconciliation; Permanent Ceasefire and Final Security Arrangements; Implementation Modalities and Mechanisms and Darfur-Darfur Dialogue and Consultation".


In their letter of 18 April, the mediators also told the three parties that the all Darfur stakeholders conference will take place in Doha during five days from 18-23 May 2011.

The meeting, which will include tribal leaders, civil society groups and representatives of displaced and refugees, will debate on the peace document and adopt it.

Announced previously for the 28 April, the mediation said the delay is due to "technical and logistic reasons beyond the Mediation’s control, pertaining to the preparatory arrangements necessary for the convening of the conference".

The rebel groups said they are keen to see "the true Darfur displaced persons" present in Doha and warned that they will refuse a meeting attended only by pro-government groups and IDPs.