A sustainable peace for the people of Darfur is in sight but the challenges still facing the Sudanese region are many, the joint African Union-United Nations envoy there said today, stressing the need for all parties to remain focused and committed to making further progress.
“There remains a long way to go. What progress has been made remains fragile and is easily reversible should we lose focus,” the Joint Special Representative and head of the UN-AU peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Ibrahim Gambari, told the Security Council in a briefing.
“The people of Darfur have suffered too long and too deeply for us to allow any set backs or regression. We must instead remain focused, determined and committed to making progress along the path to peace and reconciliation in Darfur,” he added.
He noted that the signatories to the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), an agreement signed in Qatar last year between the Sudanese Government and the rebel Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), have made notable progress towards its implementation.
However, this has so far been focused mainly on establishing the institutions provided for in the agreement and associated political appointments, he added. “In this connection, the parties recognized that many provisions of the DDPD remained unimplemented several months after their stipulated deadlines.”
The UN has previously said that agreement can form the basis for a permanent ceasefire and a comprehensive peace accord to end the fighting that began more than eight years ago in Darfur.
Mr. Gambari also noted that the Darfur Regional Authority, which was inaugurated in February, has initiated the Darfur Joint Assessment Mission provided for in the Doha Document.
“This Mission, which is intended to identify and assess needs for economic recovery, development and poverty eradication in Darfur, is projected to be completed by the end of the year and form the basis for resource mobilization. Its initiation is a positive step that deserves our commendation,” said the envoy.
In his capacity as the acting Joint Chief Mediator for Darfur, Mr. Gambari is continuing to work with the Deputy Prime Minister of Qatar, Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud, towards the resumption of negotiations between Sudan and non-signatory armed movements.
He said that several armed movements and factions have approached him to express interest in holding talks with the Government using the Doha Document as a basis for discussions.
“In my recent discussions with Deputy Prime Minister Al Mahmoud, we agreed that the environment was suitable for a re-launch of the mediation process through preliminary consultations with all interested opposition movements,” said Mr. Gambari.
“The intention would be to consolidate the gains being made through DDPD implementation and apply pressure on the hold-out movements to join the process.”
The envoy added that it is time for the task of peacekeeping to be complemented by initiatives that advance peacebuilding in Darfur.
“We must redouble our commitment to restore basic services to more communities and facilitate early recovery and reconstruction. This is the key to consolidating our gains in the region and to persuading communities ambivalent about the peace process to join it,” he stated.