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SLM-MM, JEM discuss Darfur peace with Western envoys

Gibril Ibrahim and Minni Minnawi at the opening session of Darfur track 23 Nov 2014 (ST Photo)
August 20, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - A joint delegation from the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-MM) led by Minni Minnawi and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) have held informal consultations with a number of Western envoys on the peace process in Darfur.

“The two Movements met with the German and French envoys to Sudan besides the representative of the office of the U.S. envoy to Sudan and South Sudan and the representative of the EU to the Horn of Africa as well as the representative of the German institution for meditation, Berghof Foundation,” said a statement extended to Sudan Tribune signed by JEM and SLM-MM chief negotiators respectively Ahmed Tugud and Ali Trayo.

According to the statement, the meeting, which took place on Thursday, discussed ways to agree on a declaration of principles to resume the peace talks and address the security and humanitarian issues in conflict zones.

“In this regard, the meeting dealt with the outstanding issues that prevented reaching agreement on the cessation of hostilities besides discussing ways to reach a common understanding to resolve the outstanding issues,” read the statement.

Sources close to the meeting said the international envoys sought to convince the armed groups to resume the peace talks with the Sudanese government on the basis of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD). But the joint rebel delegation suggested resuming the process with discussions on a declaration of principles before to engage in the peace talks.

They also pointed that the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) brokered process has two tracks and it would be fair to bring the SPLM-N to the negotiating table at the same time.

The two groups refuse the DDPD saying they want to discuss security and protection of civilians, compensations, land ownership, and justice. They point that the Doha document omitted to address these issues in the right way.

However, Khartoum says the DDPD is now part of the Constitution, and it cannot be changed. They say the armed groups have to sign it and renegotiate what they want to improve it.

Last May, the two groups handed over a position paper to the Joint Chief Mediator and UNAMID head stressing the need “to address the rules of procedure and other protocol issues for how negotiations on Darfur would proceed, so as to ensure parity and effective communication among the parties”.

The statement added the meeting also discussed the U.S. sanctions imposed on Sudan and the five-track engagement strategy between Washington and Khartoum, saying the two Movements demanded to link the lift of sanctions to a measurable progress in the basic freedoms, human rights, security and humanitarian situation and the resumption of the peace talks.

It said the two Movements briefed the meeting on the systematic racial targeting of Darfur students in colleges, pointing to the Darfuri students who recently resigned from Bakht Al-Ruda University.

They also demanded the meeting to exercise pressure on the Khartoum regime to stop violations against the Prisoners of Wars (POWs), calling for the need to reveal the identities of the prisoners whose whereabouts are unknown.

JEM and SLM-MM further warned against the adverse impact of the government disarmament campaign in Darfur, saying weapons of tribal militias shouldn’t be collected by other militias such as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

The two Movements further urged the Western envoys to hold contacts with the two factions of the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) to revive the peace process.

The Sudanese army has been fighting a group of armed movements in Darfur since 2003. UN agencies estimate that over 300,000 people were killed in the conflict and over 2.5 million were displaced.

Doha brokered the Darfur peace negotiations which resulted in the signing of the DDPD by the Sudanese government and the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) in July 2011. Also, a dissident JEM joined the DDPD in April 2013.

In August 2016, the two groups signed a Roadmap Agreement with the government in order to end the conflict and participate in an inclusive constitutional conference inside the country.

However, the two armed opposition groups and the government failed to sign a humanitarian cessation of hostilities in Darfur region.

(ST)