Darfur Talks: tense exchange between Minnawi, negotiating teams

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January 17, 2019 (JUBA) - The heads of negotiating teams of the government and Darfur armed groups on Friday quickly dismissed statements by Minni Minnawi the SLM leader about a setback in the ongoing discussions to end the 17-year conflict in western Sudan.

The head of the government negotiating team and member of the Sovereign Council Mohamed Hassan al-Taishi on Thursday told reporters that discussing land ownership and tribal reservations and spoke about progress in the talks.

However, on Friday, Minni Minnawi leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-MM) released a first tweet speaking about "a sudden and grave setback" in negotiations on Darfur

"The government delegation reversed its position on all the items that were agreed upon in the last period, (...) they "unashamedly said we have backpedalled on what we had agreed" before to conclude "Unfortunately, our history repeats shamelessly".

Reacting to these statements, al-Taishi and the leader of the Sudanese Revolutionary Movement Hadi Idris held a press conference in Juba to reaffirm their commitment to the peace process and denied any setback in the negotiations.

Al-Taishi who is from the region stressed that the transitional authority has a constitutional mandate to achieve peace within six months but not to wage war.

He also mentioned issues of power-sharing and security arrangements that Minnawi used to raise.

"Concerning civil governors, they would be appointed temporarily," he said before to stress that this step should not hamper a political agreement.

He further pointed to the imperious need for the transitional authority to enhance the empowerment of the civilians and to remove the supporters of the former regime from the vital government institutions.

For the security arrangements, the Sudanese official underlined that talks on this issue have not started and it is too early to make any projection.

Minnawi used to criticize the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) and to accuse them of seeking to exclude periphery people from power.

On the same vein, Idriss SRF leader denied any divergences in the peace talks with the transitional government.

He affirmed the keenness of the parties to reach a negotiated lasting peace agreement.

"We can achieve peace within the agreed time frame on the 15 of February".

Further, he said the committee charged with the participation of the displaced people in the peace process visited most of the Darfur camps, adding that the humanitarian issues will be discussed in the presence of representatives of stakeholders.

Criticism of SRF leader

Following the press conference, Minnawi posted a second tweet where he slammed the participation of the SRF leader in the press conference with the head of the government negotiating team.

"I do not know how and why my boss responds to my Tweets at a time when the government owns all private and public media," wrote Minnawi in response to Idriss’s statements at the joint press conference.

"A new beginning of divide and rule policy".

"The important thing is that we returned to Juba, and we will see to what positions that this government is remaining committed".

After the regime change and during the talks between the military council and the FFC on the transitional intuitions, Minnawi called to delay the formation of the civilian government until the signing of a peace agreement to allow them to participate in the Sovereign Council and the cabinet.