Doha Peace Talks
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Doha, the coastal capital of the Arabian emirate of Qatar, is the venue for peace talks on Darfur since 2009. The government delegation and its counter-part from the Liberation and Justice Movement, have progressed in the negotiations past several critical landmarks, including a ceasefire and consideration of detailed draft proposals.
In support of the political negotiations, the mediators of the Doha Forum, consisting of a team of UN, African Union and Qatari diplomats, hosted several major civil society "consultations" in the Emirate. The consultation in July 2010 included hundreds of civil society representatives and refugee camp leaders. Through such consultations, the Doha Forum has boosted its importance in Darfur despite its failure to reach comprehensive peace.
Several of Darfur's rebel factions, including SLA-AW and SLA-MM, steadily resisted the Doha talks. These rebels factions have not participated in direct talks with the government, though they have had some quiet consultations with the mediators.
The Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), on the other hand,has been the faction most ready to deal with the government. LJM, an umbrella coalition headed by a long-time exiled ex-governor of Darfur, has international support but little military strength in the Jebel Marra heartland of the rebellion. Nonetheless, the group boosted its position in March 2011 by agreeing to negotiate jointly with the militarily stronger Justice and Equality Movement.
Different opinions and standpoints include:
Sudan President Omar al-Bashir confirmed his presence in Doha for the signature of the Peace Agreement. During a rally in the city of Aldoam, he however added that no peace negotiations will be made with any rebel groups or foreign parties after the signature anymore, and also warned that any conflict attempts posterior to the signing would be severely reprimanded.
The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) for its part asked both the LJM and Mr. Bashir to refrain from signing the agreement, and urged the mediation to join them in this sense, as it believes the agreement would jeopardize the peace process. JEM-spokesman Jibril Bilal said during an interview with Radio Dabanga that this signature will turn into a major disappointment, stressing its similarities with the previously failed 2006 Abuja agreement.
Five years after its signature, the Abuja Accord, which was signed by the Government and the Minawi faction of the Sudanese Liberation Movement (SLM), was unable to restore peace in the country, and remains as of today a notable scar in the reconciliation process.
This time, the Government will be signing a cease-fire with the LJM, which represents only a small part of Sudan's rebellion forces. The JEM movement was also involved in the discussion, but finally decided to opt-out of the discussion. The other rebel groups, including notably the SLM Abdelwahid al-Nour and Mini Minawi factions, have so-far stayed out of the process.
Dr. Tijani Sese, President of the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), believes on his side that after a year of negotiations with the government, the agreement meets all the demands of the Darfuri. He said that by putting his signature to the agreement, their suffering would finally come to an end. He furthermore stressed that peace would be jeopardized if they waited any longer, and that it is therefore crucial to process with the signature. Dr. Sese underlined that the Agreement would be inclusive to others, and would not only be for the benefit of the LJM. He added that provisions were made for others to join, that they could still become party to the Agreement up until three months after the initial signing.
Abdel Wahed Mohamed al-Nur, founder and leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-AW), rejected the agreement altogether, saying to Radio Dabanga that it will just add to the list of failed and incomplete peace deals, just as the collapsed 2006 Abuja agreement. Contrary to Sese, he calls for the resistance of all Darfuris, displaced and refugees of Sudan against the signing. “What is really needed now,” he emphasized, “is the disarmament of the militias. We should all work together to bring down the current regime.”
Qatar wishes to keep active role in Doha Agreement
Mediator Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud from Qatar announced that Qatar will keep its door open to the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), and other movements. He said that joining can solely be on the basis of the Doha document, as it was approved locally and internationally. He said that he would stay dedicated to the people in Darfur, and would, therefore, see to the formation of a committee responsible for the implementation an practical application of the Darfur Peace Agreement. He further asserted that Qatar will preside the follow-up committee, not giving up its role. Al-Mahmoud denied JEM's allegations, accusing the Doha process to be rigged.
Sheikh of Kalma Camp criticizes UNAMID on Doha process
The Sheikh of Kalma Camp and other leaders of this camp for displaced persons, near Nyala, criticized the Department of Civil Affairs of UNAMID, on how they picked the people, as so called representatives of displaced persons in the Doha process. According to the Sheikh, these people were not true representatives of all the displaced, and this has caused animosity between those that joined the process and the leaders in Kalma camp. Any incidents that may occur between these groups, among the displaced, the Sheikh added, UNAMID is responsible for, as they caused this rift. The Sheikh also said, that the Doha Agreement did not mean anything to the displaced people of Kalma Camp.
EU reaction to Doha Agreement
The European Union welcomed the signing of the Doha Agreement. A statement issued by Catherine Ashton, responsible for EU External Relations, welcomed the agreement signed on July 14 between the Government's Liberation Movement and Justice and the Government of Sudan, and considered it as a positive step towards a lasting solution to the crisis in Darfur. In the statement , Ashton calls on all parties to the conflict to end hostilities in Darfur, without delay, and urges the armed movements, that did not participate in the process, to join.
Among the refugees and displaced, many however believe that the text will fail to restore peace, just as the Abuja agreement. Several among them have stressed the need for a unification of all the movements in this signing, which they say should not be between two parties only.
Last updated: August 2011