Sudan offers concessions paving way for resumption of Darfur peace talks: JEM leader

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November 1, 2018 (PARIS) - In a significant development paving the way for the resumption of Darfur peace talks, the Sudanese government has agreed to establish a New Independent Implementation Mechanism (NIIM) for a future peace deal, said the leader of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) on Thursday.

At the end of a three-day meeting in Paris on Tuesday 30 October, the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF)-led by Minni Minnawi reaffirmed its commitment to a comprehensive and an inclusive political settlement that achieves peace and addressing the root causes of the conflict in the country.

In statements to Sudan Tribune on Thursday, Gibril Ibrahim said that they stressed on the need for a comprehensive solution in a number of meeting recently held in Paris with the National Initiative Committee comprising Hasballah Omer a former national security and intelligence general and his brother Abdel-Aziz Usher.

Also, he said the matter was repeated in a meeting held in Paris on 25 October with Mutlaq Al Qahtani the Qatari Foreign Minister’s Special Envoy for Combating Terrorism and Conflict Resolution.

"During the meetings with the National Initiative Committee, I stressed our seriousness in reaching a comprehensive peace and told them that we do not support the partial agreements which the experience has proved unsuccessful," he said.

On the meeting held with the Qatari envoy, Gibril explained that he requested to meet Al Qahtani following the meetings of the latter in Khartoum with the Sudanese officials and the head of UNAMID Jeremiah Mamabolo who is also the Joint Chief Mediator for Peace in Darfur.

"We spoke to him about our experience in negotiating with Khartoum. We have said we will not go to negotiate on our own, and we are not against negotiations in Doha," he said.

According to Gibril the negotiations for peace in Darfur also should include a number of armed groups that have never participated in the negotiations, such as the Sudan Liberation Forces Alliance (SLFA) led by Tahir Abu Bakr Hajar and the Sudan Liberation Movement-Transitional Council (SLM-TC) headed by Hadi Idriss Yahya.

Gibril disclosed that they had received an invitation from the Joint Chief Mediator Mamabolo for a meeting in Addis Ababa on 15-16 November to discuss on the resumption of peace talks to end the 15-year conflict in Darfur.

Also, he unveiled that they had been officially informed of Sudan’s agreement to establish a new independent mechanism to implement any future peace agreement by a diplomat from the Office of the U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan and an envoy from the German institution for mediation, Berghof Foundation.

"During the meetings of the SRF, we met with Olukemi Lombardo Yai of the U.S. State Department and Theodore Murphy of Berghof Foundation who informed us about the agreement of the Sudanese government to establish the NIIM," he said.

The armed groups in Darfur accepted to negotiate with the Sudanese government on the basis of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD). In return, they asked to be allowed to add any issue to the agenda of talks and requested to establish a NIIM for the peace agreement they would conclude.

Last April, the German foreign ministry and the Berghof Foundation held a meeting between the SLM-MM, JEM and the Sudanese government in Berlin to discuss a pre-negotiation agreement but the government delegation refused the second demand.

Now with this development, the parties would meet in the upcoming week to sign the pre-negotiation agreement. Once they ink this declaration of principles the parties will discuss and sign a cessation of hostilities agreement in Addis Ababa paving the way for peace talks in Doha.

However, no date has been yet determined for the talks. The matter should be discussed with the JCM Mamabolo within two weeks.

Gibril said that the recent contacts conducted by him or the other armed opposition leaders aimed at reaffirming the announced positions of the opposition towards the peace process.

"There is a full coordination between the Sudan Liberation Movement-Minnawi and the Justice and Equality Movement on their positions over the peace talks," he added.

Furthermore, JEM leader said that these contacts on the peace process in Darfur do not contradict with a holistic solution within the framework of a national dialogue process that includes all the political opposition forces and armed movements in the Two Areas, as provided in the Roadmap agreement.

Pointing to the two-tracks process of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), he said that the role of African mediation is limited to the signing of the cessation of hostilities. After what the talks will move to Doha. And when a peace deal is struck intervenes the national dialogue which is supposed to tackle all the national issues.

The deputy leader of the Sudan Call forces regretted that the AUHIP recently proposed to amend the Roadmap Agreement in order to move directly from the peace agreement to the Constitutional Conference.

"Accepting this amendment means ultimately the transfer of national issues such as the restructuring of the state and justice to the peace negotiations," he underscored.

"So, this will be an obstacle to the success of peace negotiations," he concluded.