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Darfur peace forum ends without declaring ceasefire

March 30, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The second Um Jaras forum on peace and security in Darfur has ended its sessions on Sunday and recommended disarming all rebel groups and militias saying that Sudan’s Armed Forces (SAF) must be the sole entity that have the right to retain arms in the restive region.

Traditional leaders from the transnational Zaghawa ethnic group, in October 2013, held the first session of the forum at the Chadian border town of Um Jaras and decided to carry out their own demarche with the leaders of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM), to convince them to join peace process.

But the two rebel groups didn’t take part in the second forum despite assurances made by the government’s liaison committee that they will join the peace process.

The forum demanded demobilizing irregular troops or reintegrating it into SAF, underscoring the need to impose state’s authority and the rule of law. It also renewed the call for the rebel groups to respond to the call for peace.

However, the final recommendations didn’t include a call for declaring immediate cease fire as recommended by the participants on Saturday.

The participants in the forum announced full support for peace and peaceful coexistence among tribes in Darfur, expressing readiness to contribute to stopping destruction and war in the region.

The second forum also was attended by traditional and tribal leaders from different tribes in Darfur, particularly the Rizeigat, Massalit, Ma’alia, Salamat and Ta’isha who fought each other in different states.

The leaders of these tribes handed over a written commitment to the president Omer Al-Bashir where they pledge to not resort to arms and resolve their differences peacefully.

The forum further demanded promoting the role of the joint Sudanese-Chadian border monitoring force to secure the borders between the two countries and, calling upon all parties not to harm ordinary citizens and destroy vital projects in Darfur.

It has also hailed the role of the state of Qatar in achieving comprehensive peace in Darfur through sponsoring and supporting the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), pointing to Qatar’s financial contributions for establishing development projects and voluntary return villages for IDPs.

The forum called for upholding values of dialogue, forgiveness and tolerance besides renouncing violence, war, and tribal fanaticism, demanding promoting reconciliation among tribes in Darfur.

Qatar which sponsored a two year process aiming to end the conflict, pledged to donate two billion dollars to be used in the recovery and development projects.

The tribal leaders pointed, in their communiqué, to the need for implementing the security arrangements in accordance with the DDPD besides encouraging voluntary return of IDPs and refugees through providing the necessary requirements, affirming the need for activating the role of the local administration in conflict areas.

The forum praised efforts of the Chadian president, Idriss Deby, to resolve the crisis in Darfur, calling for expanding the Um Jaras forum and providing the necessary support for it in order to carry out its role.

It called upon the Sudanese president, Omer Hassan Al-Bashir, and his Chadian counterpart to provide support for the implementation of the recommendations of the forum.

(ST)