Home | News    Sunday 24 August 2008

Darfur rebel group urge new mediator to maintain impartiality

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August 23, 2008 (LONDON) – The newly appointed Darfur peace mediator met with representatives of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) Unity faction in London today to explore their views on the conflict, a rebel official said.

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Djibril Bassolé

Mahjoub Hussein, a leading figure in SLM-Unity faction told Sudan Tribune that Djibril Bassole wanted to get an understanding on the roots of the Darfur crisis as they see it during the two hours meeting.

“We conveyed to him that the crisis is not related to the issue of so-called multiple movements. The Darfur people have a cause; the government knows that and it has to solve the problem” he said.

“The rules for the participation in any upcoming negotiations are clear. We don’t want another distortion to the conflict. This is a sacred cause” he added.

Hussein said that “only four Darfur movements have real military presence on the ground” qualifying them for taking part in peace talks.

Peace talks brokered by the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU) between Sudan’s government and Darfur rebel groups in the Libyan city of Sirte last October failed after main movements boycotted them including Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) led by Khalil Ibrahim and Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) led by Abdel-Wahid Al-Nur.

Bassole, the former Burkina Faso foreign minister, has been chosen as the new mediator to replace the dual negotiating team of AU special envoy for Darfur Salim Ahmed Salim and his counterpart at the UN, Jan Eliasson.

He will arrive to Sudan next week to begin officially his duties. The full time mediator will be based in North Darfur.

The SLM-Unity official warned Bassole about the need to maintain impartiality throughout his tenure.

“We told Bassole that he needs to deal impartially in his mediation and refrain from taking any positions of supporting the Sudanese government” he said.

Hussein said they are prepared to negotiate anywhere without conditions “when there are clear and serious conditions”.

However he stressed that the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) signed in Abuja in May 2006 “does not constitute any reference to negotiate”.

He also dismissed a government brokered initiative known as ‘People of Sudan’ announced by Sudanese president Omar Hassan Al-Bashir during his tour of Darfur in July.

The Sudanese head of state invited all political forces and the Darfuri figures, including the non-signatories rebels, to take part in it.

“The Darfur conflict can only be resolved through direct negotiations and the presence of the international community and regional players” Hussein said.

“We do not want the Darfur crisis to be a market for the initiatives” he added.

UN experts estimate some 300,000 people have died and 2.5 million driven from their homes. Sudan blames the Western media for exaggerating the conflict and puts the death toll at 10,000.

(ST)

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