April 7, 2014 (PARIS) – The leader of a Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM)’s faction, Minni Minnawi, denied reports that he had met the Chadian president Idriss Deby in Paris to discuss ways to achieve peace in Darfur.
- Minni Minnawi, the leader of the Darfur rebel faction Sudan Liberation Movement (AFP)
“I did not meet with Deby, and we have no contact or coordination with him. I have just arrived to Paris after his meeting between Gibril Ibrahim on Saturday,” Minnawi told Sudan Tribune few hours after his arrival in the French capital on Monday.
The Chadian president, who left Paris on Sunday, met on Saturday evening with Gibril Ibrahim, leader of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). He told the latter that Zaghawa tribal leaders tasked him to contact Darfur rebel leaders, and to encourage them to join the peace process to end the 11-year conflict.
JEM leader said that Deby informed him that he would meet with Minnawi who also belongs to the Zaghawa ethnic group to brief him about the outcome of Um Jaras forum.
Minnawi said his visit to Paris is planned since a long time and has nothing with the Chadian president Deby, but he intends to meet SLM chapters in Europe, Sudanese communities and meet humanitarian groups.
The rebel leader further criticised the Um Jaras forum, saying the Darfur conflict is a political not a tribal conflict. He also said that Khartoum by holding such gatherings seeks to mislead the international community and distract it from the real problem.
The SLM-MM launched has several attacks in South and North Darfur states in the past tgwo months. On Sunday, the Sudanese army (SAF) said they retook the Bir Maza area, describing it as the last rebel stronghold in North Darfur.
Minnawi confirmed that SAF is now in Bir Maza, but denied the presence of his fighters in this vast valley.
OPPOSITION PARTIES ARE ALLIES OF NCP
Asked about the support of opposition parties to the national dialogue initiative launched by the president Omer Hassan al-Bashir, the rebel leader said he is not surprised by such development, saying these political forces share the same “Arab ideology” with the ruling National Congress Party (NCP).
“The opposition parties disagree with the NCP only on who rule the Sudan. All of them (theopposition and ruling parties) disagree with the [Sudan] Revolutionary Front (SRF)over how to rule Sudan,” Minnawi said.
He further pointed out that there would be no political stability in the country unless the two armed blocks, the government and the SRF alliance members, reach an agreement.
The major political opposition forces particularly, the National Umma Party (NUP) and the Popular Congress Party (PCP) agree to take part in the political process, but they posed a number of condition to ensure the democratic transformation.
They, however, voiced their opposition at the demands of rebel groups, who propose that the African Union and the United Nations broker the process.
The SRF also demands negotiations on a humanitarian cessation of hostilities in Darfur and the Two Areas before it agrees to engage in national talks. However, the opposition maintains that rebels must sign separate peace deals before joining the political process.