September 27, 2009 (WASHINGTON) — The US special envoy to Sudan Scott Gration “does not have a program or strategy for a solution”, Darfur Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) Chief Khalil Ibrahim said.
- Darfur Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) leader Dr. Khalil Ibrahim (AP)
In an interview with the London based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Ibrahim accused Gration of being preoccupied with the 2011 referendum in South Sudan more than the Darfur crisis.
“All the statements that he makes about Darfur are nothing more than public relations and courtesy statements. It seems that he is not viewing the Sudanese issue in a comprehensive manner. That is why we call on the US Administration to appoint a [new] special envoy for Darfur” he said.
“Gration’s approach is based on the tribe and would lead to division and a fresh civil war. I can say that Gration should listen more to those that are knowledgeable about the issue of Darfur. It seems he is listening to people that are not closely familiar with the issue or are not related to the issue at all” Ibrahim added.
The rebel leader said that Gration is working in creating new rebel groups “under the pretexts of uniting them” adding that some of these groups are undercover Sudanese security proxies.
Gration along with Libya have brought together a number of rebel groups in a bid to unite them to join current negotiations with Khartoum taking place in the Arab Gulf state of Qatar.
JEM signed an goodwill agreement with Khartoum last February but the talks seems to have stalled after the rebel group accused the government of reneging on the accord by expelling aid groups and refusing to swap POW’s.
Ibrahim blasted some international players who seek to “liquidate” the Darfur conflict.
“There is an inclination by some in the international community that are engaged in the issue of Darfur to liquidate it. All those that say they are international mediators or special envoys to Sudan are now leaning toward freezing our people’s just issue and then liquidating it,” he said.
“We will not let them turn our cause into a buying and selling affair. We will not remain silent on the bargaining in which these people are engaged” Ibrahim added.
He also dismissed claims by Sudanese presidential assistant Nafi Ali Nafi that JEM no longer has presence on the ground in Darfur.
“I do not attach any importance to what Nafi Ali Nafi says. He is a man of hollow heroics. Everyone knows where Nafi was when our forces reached the capital in Operation Long Arm. He should ask Adada (of course, when the media are not there) or mediator Dijibril Bassole about our presence on the ground and about the territories we control,” JEM leader said.
“Why is [Sudanese president] Al-Bashir and Nafi busy digging trenches around the capital, Khartoum and planning and equipping militias to defend their regime in Khartoum if they are not afraid of the might of our movement and of its strong return once again to uproot their regime,” he added.
Asked about description made by Sudanese senior presidential assistant Minni Arcua Minnawi to JEM as being a ‘Nazi’ group, Ibrahim dismissed the labeling.
“Minni Arcua does not even know the meaning of Nazism and fascism. He is accusing us of things he does not even understand and he should be the last person to talk about our human rights record. The JEM is known far and near for its clean human rights record. It has a regular army and institutions that are governed by strict laws and clear bylaws that are based on international charters and the customs of our people. We are not a militia like Minni Arcua. The people of Darfur are familiar with his violations of human rights and the Qaridah region in northern Darfur stands witness to this,” he said.
Minnawi, an ex-rebel chief, said last week that if JEM came to power “they will exterminate people”.
“We also see that the ideology of JEM became Nazi and Fascist. This is not just my position but that of most Darfuris who suffered from its conduct” he said.
The JEM leader speaking on the African Union (AU) panel on Darfur headed by former South African leader Thabo Mbeki is not “neutral”.
The panel is tasked with looking into ways to harmonize justice with peace in Sudan particularly after the International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant for Bashir.
“It [panel] was formed by Al-Bashir and a number of African heads of state to save him from the trial of the International Criminal Court. Mbeki’s committee is looking for a solution to Al-Bashir’s crimes in Darfur. Perhaps you are aware that the suggestion made by the committee to establish a mixed tribunal is nonsense and an insult to our intelligence” Ibrahim said.
“When Mbeki was the president of his country, he refused three times to receive delegations from our movement to explain to him our cause. What is new that Mbeki has seen to come to Darfur? We know that he has special interests with Al-Bashir and he is now being paid for his services. We will reject any recommendations made by Mbeki’s committee because it is not neutral and its goals are against the interests of our people” he added.
The panel is scheduled to deliver its recommendations to the AU peace and Security Council during the first week of October.
Darfur rebels are skeptical of the panel saying it is an attempt by the AU to circumvent the ICC investigations.