The African Union-United Nations Joint Mediator for Darfur has wrapped up talks between the top African Union (AU) official and leaders of two of the region's main rebel movements, encouraging the parties to overcome their misgivings and press ahead towards a comprehensive political accord, for the benefit of not only strife-ridden Darfur, but also for wider Sudan.
“This meeting is a significant opportunity for the movements and the African Union to exchange views and for building a common understanding of the basis for a lasting political settlement for Darfur,” said Mohamed Ibn Chambas, who is also Joint Special Representative and head of the AU-UN hybrid peacekeeping operation in Darfur, known as UNAMID.
According to a news release from the mission, Mr. Chambas facilitated a meeting yesterday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, between the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, and leaders of the Sudan Liberation Army - Minni Minawi (SLA-MM) and the Justice and Equality Movement - Gibril Ibrahim (JEM-GI).
The Sudanese Government and two major rebel groups have so far committed to the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), named after the Qatari capital where talks were held to end the conflicts between the Government and various armed groups which have led to the deaths of tens if not hundreds of thousands and displaced nearly two million since they first erupted in early 2003.
The Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) signed on in 2012 and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) signed a framework agreement in January 2013, but several other groups have yet to come fully on board, including JEM-Bashar, and those represented at yesterday's talks.
UNAMID says in its news release that the leaders of the armed movements, Minni Arko Minawi and Gibril Ibrahim Mohamed, affirmed their commitment for peace, a united Sudan with a national identity that reflects its cultural and religious diversity, and the need for a national dialogue to address holistically the problems facing the country. They urged the AU to become fully engaged in the political process and assist the Sudanese parties to realize these goals.
The Chairperson welcomed the commitment of the armed movement leaders to peace, the unity of their country, a comprehensive and negotiated solution to Sudan's issues, and the holding of national dialogue. Reflecting on the experience of the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa, Ms. Zuma advised: “There will always be problems of mistrust, skepticism and doubts when people have been at war for decades.”
For his part, Mr. Chambas urged the armed movements to join the 'national dialogue' proposed by Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir in January, as a workable option towards bringing a comprehensive solution to the crises in Darfur and all of Sudan. Chairperson Zuma similarly, encouraged them to continue to work with UNAMID and other stakeholders to formulate a strategy on how to conduct the national dialogue.
Ms. Zuma also reaffirmed the commitment of the AU, through the joint efforts of UNAMID and the African Union High Level Panel on Sudan, to continue to assist all the Sudanese parties in the search for lasting peace and economic development in Sudan. “The more we can assist Sudan to be united, diverse with a common national identity, the better for the AU”, she said.
During his visit to Addis Ababa, UNAMID says that Mr. Chambas also met the Envoys of the League of Arab States member States accredited to Ethiopia and briefed them on the situation in Darfur, highlighting the security situation, including the rise in inter and intra-communal conflicts and continuing belligerency between the Sudanese Government and armed movements with their negative impact on the humanitarian situation which has worsened.
Mr. Chambas discussed his efforts towards facilitating an inclusive, sustainable political process to bring the Darfur conflict to a successful and acceptable conclusion for all stakeholders. He stressed the need for the support and goodwill of the international community, including the Arab League, to make the national dialogue proposed by Khartoum transparent and credible.