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JEM says not sure about its participation in Qatari peace talks

October 8, 2008 (PARIS) — Khalil Ibrahim the chairman of the rebel Justice and Equality welcomed yesterday ongoing efforts to bring peace in Darfur but he stressed that his movement has not yet decided to participate in Qatar peace talks.

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JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim

The Joint Chief Mediator for peace in Darfur, Djibril Bassolé met Tuesday for the first time with the JEM chairman Khalil Ibrahim in undisclosed area in Darfur. The two parties discussed the Qatati initiative to host Darfur peace negotiations.

Ibrahim told the joint mediator his movement welcomes any initiative in order to settle the ongoing conflict in Darfur. However, he underscored the need to involve the international community through the United Nations and the African Union in order to guarantee any agreement with Khartoum.

The Qatari mediation comes after the failure of Libya to organise peace negotiations in October 2007, and the change of the two peace envoy who were considered by many as an obstacle for peace process.

Arab ministerial council formed on September 9, a ministerial body co-chaired by the Qatari Prime Minister, Hamad bin Jasim, Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Jean Ping and Arab League Secretary General Amr Musa.

The panel is charged with the organisation and sponsorship of peace talks in Qatar between the Sudanese government and the rebel movements.

Tahir Elfaki, the speaker of JEM legislative council told Sudan Tribune that Ibrahim had informed the mediator they didn’t yet take a decision over the Qatari initiative. He further added that a delegation would soon fly to Doha for talks with the Qatari officials.

"We will take our decision on the Qatari initiative after the return of the delegation" he underscored.

JEM chairman told the joint mediator that there was a need to explain the plight of Darfur people and their cause. "Doha till now listens to one point of view. They have to hear the other side," Elfaki said.

The rebel movement also informed the chief mediator they would not commit themselves to any ceasefire before the signing of a lasting peace deal.

Last year Khalil Ibrahim had already announced that he would not lay down arms during peace talks. The rebel leader explained his position by the lack of confidence on the government.

"There is no goodwill from the other side. This is only a trick," he said in September 2007. The rebel movement says Khartoum during Abuja talks violated constantly the signed truce and they do not want to commit the same error.

International experts estimate some 300,000 people have died and 2.5 million driven from their homes during five years of fighting in Darfur. Washington calls the violence genocide.

Khartoum rejects the term and says the West has exaggerated the conflict, putting the death toll at 9,000.

(ST)