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Chadian president meets Darfur rebels in Paris

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April 5, 2014 (PARIS) – Chadian president Idriss Deby met with the chairman of Justice and Equality Movement Gibril Ibrahim in Paris on Saturday to discuss peace in Darfur, announced the group in a statement released on Sunday.

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Chadian president Idriss Deby talks to the press before attending the second day of the fourth EU-Africa summit on 3 April 2014 at the EU Headquarters in Brussels (Photo: AFP/Thierry Charlier)

The meeting which is the official first contact between the two Zaghawa leaders is the first since 2010 when Chad and Sudan signed an agreement ending tensions between the two neighbouring countries and providing to stop support to rebel groups from both sides.

According to JEM spokesperson Gibreel Adam Bilal, Deby told Ibrahim that he wanted to meet him in response to the desire of the Zaghawa tribal leaders, who held two forums in the border town of Um Jaras where they “assured him they are tired from war and want peace”.

Different sources said Deby asked Ibrahim and the leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement faction SLM-MM, Minni Minnawi, who is also a Zaghawa, to meet him in Paris at the end of the fourth EU-Africa Summit which took place in Brussels from 2-3 April .

Minnawi did not release a statement about the meeting, but it was reported that he too is in Paris to meet with the president Deby separately.

Gibril Ibrhaim told Sudan Tribune after the meeting that he repeated the demand of the rebel alliance Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) for an inclusive process to achieve a comprehensive solution to the different armed conflicts in the country.

“We said it is not a matter of tribe or a region but the whole Sudan. We do not want partial agreements, but a solution negotiated with all the SRF members to achieve a genuine peace and democratic change in Sudan,” Ibrahim said.

The JEM leader said that Deby had told him he intended to brief him on the outcome of the Um Jaras forum, and pledged to report what he heard in Paris to Darfur tribal leaders who had commissioned him to hold the meeting.

When asked if they intend to meet again, Ibrahim said they did not speak about such thing but expressed readiness to meet again if needed.

Sudan’s state news agency SUNA reported from Khartoum that the JEM leader had been informed during the meeting of the demand of Darfur people for peace in the region .

The SRF issued on Friday a statement claiming that new Chadian troops have been recently deployed in North Darfur to take part in the counterinsurgency campaign launched there after a series of attacks by the SLM-MM.

The rebel groups are members of the SRF allianceand have demanded that the Sudanese government engage in negotiations for a comprehensive humanitarian cessation of hostilities agreement with them before an inclusive meeting brokered by international mediators to discuss political matters.

The ruling National Congress Party, which seeks to organise a national dialogue with political forces ahead of the general elections in 2015, proposes that rebel groups join the process after signing separate peace agreements to end armed conflicts in the Darfur region, as well as South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

(ST)

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