Darfur Peace Process (as of 18 January 2012)

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After renewed international support for the Doha peace talks in March–May 2011, the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) and the Government of Sudan (GoS) signed the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) on 14 July 2011, just five days after South Sudan officially became independent. The Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minawi (SLA-MM), the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW), and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) did not sign the agreement.

The agreement differs little in substance from the Darfur Peace Agreement of 2006, although provisions related to justice, compensation, and power-sharing formulas have evolved. The non-signatory groups’ motives for rejecting the DDPD are largely tactical. The eruption of conflict between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) and the GoS in the Three Areas has allowed SLA-AW, JEM, and SLA-MM to articulate a national&emdash;rather than a solely regional&emdash;agenda.

Militarily, JEM and SLA-MM continue to dominate. Already highly organized, JEM has been able to channel Libyan aid due to its presence in Tripoli. SLA-MM has stockpiled supplies from its period in the Sudanese government, but continues to be plagued by internal divisions. The SPLM and Uganda have stepped up support in recent months, but not at the level of Libyan (or formerly Chadian) support to JEM. SLA-AW’s area of control has been diminished by the GoS offensives of the last year, but both SLA-MM and SLA-AW also benefitted from the GoS offensive. GoS targeting of civilians created new cadres for the rebels from among the displaced, and rebels also captured GoS military materials.

The proposed AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP)-led Darfur Political Process (DPP) is contested. The US Special Envoy for Sudan developed a stringent set of preconditions for support. On 19 August, the AU Peace and Security Commission declared its support for the process&emdash;even without the support of the UN Security Council, which also set benchmarks for the DPP.

In parallel to Doha and the discussion on the DPP, an All Darfur Stakeholders' Conference (ADSC) was convened between 27 and 31 May 2011 in Qatar. The final communiqué endorsed the draft Doha agreement, but not all the participants assented to the endorsement. Nor was the conference fully representative of Darfur's many stakeholders. The ADSC agreed to the formation of a Follow-up Committee, which is led by Qatar and supported by the European Union and United States. In September 2011, the joint chief mediator for the AU/UN, Djibril Bassolé, accepted the post of foreign minister of his native Burkina Faso. While he remains involved, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, the joint special representative of the Secretary-General for the African Union/United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), has been named interim mediator, despite concerns voiced by the United States, France, and the United Kingdom. In another development, on 13 September Al-Haj Adam Youssef was appointed vice president, in line with the DDPD’s stipulation that a person from Darfur receive a vice presidential appointment. JEM and SLA-AW opposed the appointment; the LJM was slighted because it presumed the job would be given to someone from its ranks.

In October, LJM leader Tijani Sese returned to Sudan: he made contact with Sudanese political parties and toured Darfur to lobby for the DDPD. His reception was mixed, with residents of IDP camps raising concerns about premature forced returns, the need to disarm the ‘janjaweed’, compensation and accountability for war crimes. The US special envoy lobbied the Sudanese government on five points during a tour of Darfur in October and November: a mechanism for resolving land disputes; a mechanism for ensuring compensation payments; the establishment of special courts in Darfur; the establishment of a human rights commission; and development assistance.

December and January saw major changes in Darfur, including the killing of JEM’s Chairman Khalil Ibrahim in Was Banda, North Kordofan, between 22-24 December 2011. The GoS says JEM's plans were discovered when it seized papers from the PCP's Ibrahim Sanussi, a senior assistant to party leader Hassan al Turabi, at Khartoum Airport sometime in December. A tracker was reportedly placed on Khalil Ibrahim’s vehicle after GoS ground forces engaged him and his entourage during the North Kordofan battle. This facilitated the aerial bombing that killed him. Another version of events states that the Meidop, who have grievances with JEM dating to the killing of Meidop members of JEM in 2010, revealed Khalil Ibrahim’s movements and tagged his vehicle.

Apparently, JEM also stopped en route from Wahid Huwar on the North Darfur/Chad border to gather more forces and exchange some of its money/gold for materials needed for battle. This would have allowed reports of its movements to reach Khartoum. The GoS is still not clear whether JEM was trying to attack Khartoum or moving to join Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) forces in South Sudan, near Kauda, though subsequent media statements point to the latter. The government originally said JEM had between 1,000-1,500 fighters, and 140 vehicles. Ninety-seven vehicles where said to have made their way to South Sudan, though in a later formal complaint to the UNSC and AU PSC the figures were revised down to 350 combatants and 79 vehicles.

Tahir el Faki took the interim leadership of JEM following the dictates of JEM’s internal charter, according to which he, as president of the Legislative Council, would be in charge for a transition period of 60 days. Faki is not a Zaghawa, nor does he have military credentials. A JEM internal conference is being planned to nominate a new permanent leader but the location has not yet been confirmed.

After Khalil Ibrahim’s death, SRF members reiterated their opposition to the government and the need to continue the struggle. In Khartoum, student groups affiliated to JEM demonstrated against the GoS, leading to clashes and the temporary closure of campuses because of fears that the protests, combined with general unrest, could spark an Arab Spring-type uprising.

Concurrent with Khalil Ibrahim’s killing, DDPD implementation continued to advance. On 26 December, the GoS appointed ten ministers and four commissioners. The appointees were a mix of LJM cadres, NCP figures, past Abuja Agreement signatories, and Darfur civil society leaders. On 10 January 2012, President Omar al Bashir issued three decrees, which established two new Darfur states and re-shuffled the governors with the appointment of two new ones. Bashir’s first decree relieved the governors of South Darfur state, Abdul Hamid Musa Kasha, and of West Darfur state, Al-Sharati Gaffar Abdul Hakam, of their positions. The second decree established Eastern and Central Darfur states, and re-appointed Kasha as governor of the first and Yusif Tibin, a former minister of infrastructure of Khartoum state, as governor of the second. While the governor of North Darfur state, Osman Yusif Kibbir, retained his position, the former governor of West Darfur state, Abdul Hakam, lost his position to Haydar Koma, a Zaghawa member of LJM.

Among the new appointees was Hamad Ismail Abdul Karim who was named governor of South Darfur. Abdul Karim was until recently one of the Darfuri leaders who supported the opposition PCP. The new Central Darfur and Eastern Darfur states center around Ed Daien and Zalingei, areas traditionally associated respectively with the Baggara Arabs and Fur. As these changes will inevitably upset sensitive ethnic relations, unrest is likely to follow.

For information on Darfur Armed Groups and Coalitions, click here.

For a chronology of the Darfur Peace Process, click here.

For the latest on the Sudan-Chad rapprochement, click here.

Updated 18 January 2012