February 6, 2010 (KHARTOUM) – The Darfur mediation team will determine within the coming weeks the fate of the stalled negotiations between Khartoum and the rebel groups gathered in the Arab Gulf state of Qatar amid growing impatience by the host.
The parties to the talks were given a set of questions by the mediation and were required to answer and respond by Saturday after which it will be reviewed and a decision will be taken on whether full blown negotiations can go ahead.
Among the rebel groups present are the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), Sudan Liberation Movement SLM-Revolutionary forces as well as Addis Ababa groups which is comprised of those Darfur rebels whose representatives met last year in the Ethiopian capital under American auspices.
One of the major issues facing the mediation is uniting these groups to form one position when negotiating with the Sudanese government.
The Doha based Al-Arab newspaper however, said that JEM is insisting on uniting all other groups under its umbrella while other rebels want equal representation in one negotiating team.
JEM spokesperson Ahmed Hussein has told Sudan Tribune this week that it is open to ‘integrated unity’ with the other groups adding that his movement wants to see a will among the other groups with regard to the idea revealing that they have so far received encouraging signs in that direction.
Last month, Amin Hassan Omer, a state minister for culture and information and member of the government delegation to Darfur peace talks rejected any preconditions from any party, adding they would negotiate with those who attend from Addis Ababa or Tripoli groups or JEM.
He was alluding to JEM’s demand to exclude the other factions – formed in Tripoli and Addis Ababa — and to limit the negotiations to JEM and the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdel Wahid Al-Nur (SLM-AW).
Mahjoub Hussein from the Tripoli group told Al-Arab that JEM has not given them a “clear response” on their demands for coordination on the negotiation level suggesting that unity option is off the table for now.
He stressed that no one group can claim that it is a representative of the Darfuri people citing “complex picture” of the war ravaged region.
Hussein on his end said that they have submitted their response to the mediation containing detailed answers on their views with regard to the talks emphasizing their interest in peace and Doha as a venue for peace.
The JEM official said that the priority now is for “integrative unity” with other groups and ruled out the prospects of anything short of this object adding that coordination as proposed has not worked in the past.
He called on the government to look beyond trying to cease hostilities and focus on a comprehensive agreement that wins the commitment irrespective of the elections.
Last year, the rebel movement has suspended its participation in any future Doha talks saying Khartoum has breached on the goodwill agreement signed in February 2009 after Sudan expelled more than a dozen aid groups from Darfur.
Sudan accused these groups of collaborating with the International Criminal Court (ICC) which issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir.