Home | Comment & Analysis    Tuesday 29 June 2010

Doha forum is hardly conducive to resolve the crisis in Darfur

By Mahmoud A. Suleiman

June 28, 2010 — The current venue for the Darfur peace negotiations in the Qatari capital Doha has turned abjectly flawed since the joint UN-AU Mediation allowed to be cluttered with a massive number of people unrelated directly as parties to the talks. The Doha platform has become as though an open market for supply and demand or a public auction where nobody knows the negotiating parties, whereas the parties for peace should have been the Government of Sudan (GoS) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) who are fighting each other on the ground, in the battle field in the Greater Darfur Region. This turn of events is due to the Mediation’s lack of the basic knowledge of the process and methods for peace negotiations. Moreover, it is also attributable to the dearth of understanding of the root causes and the complexity of the crisis in Darfur on the part of the host country or as an even worse is the lack of impartiality in treating all the rivals in the Darfur dispute equally and bias in favour of Government of Sudan (GoS) against the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). The rebellion of the people of Sudan in Darfur, seven odd years ago, was against the central government of Sudan which exercised chronic injustice, systematic marginalisation and denial of legitimate rights for the development of the region.

Observers believe that the unsystematic partial measures which the Mediator Mr. Djibrill Yipènè Bassolé trying to apply would lead to the emergence of a new crisis similar to or even worse than what happened in the infamous Abuja agreement in Nigeria on the 5th May 200 when the then President Obasanjo of Nigeria and Robert B. Zoellick, US Deputy Secretary of State pressurised and duped one of the parties, Minni Arko Minnawi, current Senior Presidential Assistant and Head of the Transitional Darfur Regional Authority (TDRA) , to thumb the abortive DPA. As if history is repeating itself this time too, but in the Gulf state of Qatar.

Analysts assert that unilateral solutions pursued by the Mediator and the host country in the Doha platform will not resolve the seven-year crisis in Darfur. Any political solution to the issue in the Darfur Region must be comprehensive. The newly created group, Liberation and Justice Movement, that the GoS is currently trying to negotiate with has no military presence on the ground in Darfur. This group can only be categorised as a Civil Society Organisation at best or at its worst a National Congress Party (NCP) Government ploy designated to turn the situation in the Doha venue to its own advantage. Mr. Bassolé needs not to become a carbon copy of his predecessor Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim, the former Tanzanian Prime Minister, who was the mediator for the Abuja Darfur peace process! On the other hand, it is more prudent for Jonathan Scott Gration the retired Major General of the United States Air Force, special envoy of the US president to Sudan to use his “Mandate and the authority to drive U.S. policy on Sudan with the view to enhancing fair and serious peace negotiations for a political solution that will give the people of Darfur a meaningful voice."

Sustainable and comprehensive negotiated peace in Darfur is the strategic goal of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). In order to return to the Doha Forum (JEM) demands the following:

• Impartiality of the host country Qatar and distancing itself from becoming a party in the dispute.

• Separation of the role of the joint UN-AU Mediation from that of the Host country Qatar.

• Clear road map with One Path by identifying the warring Parties for the negotiations.

• Participation of the International Community members, United States of America (US) , European Union (EU), the African Union (AU) the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) as guarantors for the negotiated peace agreement.

• Removal of the huge number of people (more than 500, currently living in three five-star hotels, who have nothing to do with negotiations, in order to avoid confusion.

• Facilitate the return of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) chairman Dr. Khalil Ibrahim Mohamed to access his bases in Darfur to meet and consult with his forces and citizens around the peace negotiations with a view to contribute positively to the measures that enhance the resolution of the crisis in Darfur and restore the legitimate rights to the people of Sudan in Darfur.

• Sudan’s government to avoid its intransigence and be serious about reaching to sustainable comprehensive peace in Darfur through constructive negotiations and not resort to prevarication to buy time and prolong the suffering of the people of Sudan in Darfur.

These are the basic and the minimum demands that JEM has put forward to the Mediator and the host country. Nevertheless, it seem as though they have fallen on deaf ears and met with underestimation, irony and indifference. Analysts assert that any agreement struck in relation to peace in Darfur without the participation of JEM will not be sustainable and would be doomed to failure and return to the square one of the damned war, which came on the green and the dry and destroyed the lives and the livelihood of the Sudanese citizens in Darfur and Kordofan.

It seems that many actors calling for Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) to return to the Doha platform to continue the negotiations that had been hampered by the ongoing war in Darfur, but the rebel group says that their return is subject to substantial reforms to be made in the platform as previously mentioned in order to provide a climate conducive to lead to an honourable peace just and sustainable comprehensive peace that would put an end to the crisis in Darfur forever. The Question that imposes itself at this juncture and moment with urgency is whether the mediation and the host country are ready to meet those demands within a certain time frame? That is the sixty-four dollars question awaiting a satisfactory answer from HE Ahmed Abdullah al-Mahmoud, Qatari State Minister for Foreign Affairs and Mr. Djibrill Yipènè Bassolé, joint UN-AU Mediator.

Dr. Mahmoud A. Suleiman is the Deputy Chairman of the General Congress for the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). He can be reached at Mahmoud.abaker@gmail.com