October 4, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – Chadian president Idris Deby failed to convince leaders of the three major armed groups in western Sudan region of Darfur to join the national dialogue conference scheduled to be held next week.
In a meeting held in Paris on Saturday, Deby conveyed to the leaders of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-MM), Minni Minnawi, and (SLM-AW) Abdel-Wahid al-Nur and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), Jibril Ibrahim, Kharotum’s pledges to guarantee the safety of the rebel leaders participating in the dialogue conference.
The three rebel leaders in a statement released on Sunday said that Deby reminded the prolonged suffering of their people in the IDP’s and refugees camps and in Darfur in general, calling upon them to seek to achieve peace and to participate in the national dialogue “because Sudan’s issues couldn’t be resolved through military means”.
Ibrahim and Minnawi said they expressed desire to achieve peace and readiness to participate in the national dialogue if it meets the conditions stated in the roadmap issued by the rebel umbrella Sudan Revolutionary Forces (SRF) in September 2015 which are in consistency with the demands of the rest of the opposition forces.
JEM leader Jibril Ibrahim told Sudan Tribune following the meeting with the Chadian president in Paris that the latter asked them to fly to Khartoum to participate in the national dialogue.
“He [Deby] said that Khartoum has pledged to offer all the necessary guarantees to protect the [rebel] leaders, pointing to the favourable opportunity that mustn’t be missed because solutions don’t come in one go,” Ibrahim said.
He said they told Deby that they are part of the Sudanese opposition and they can’t abandon their regional and international agreements and commitments, pointing to their desire to achieve a comprehensive peace that is based upon solid foundations.
For his part, the leader of SLM-MM, Minni Minnawi told Sudan Tribune that they told Deby that several steps must be achieved before to join the dialogue inside the country including ending the war, allowing freedoms, releasing political detainees, and holding the pre-dialogue meeting in Addis Ababa.
“We asked Deby to support those demands and to push for achieving them particularly as the crisis in Darfur impacts on N’djamena who shelters thousands of refugees from Darfur,” he added.
Minnawi further pointed that Deby pledged to continue his efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace in Sudan. But Ibrahim said they felt that Deby does not want to involve himself much in the process because he fears to be accused of supporting this or that side.
Last week, Sudan officially requested Deby to persuade rebel groups in Darfur region to join the national dialogue conference.
“Sudan looks forward to the support of President Deby in convincing the holdout movements to sign the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) and joining the national dialogue process,” said Sudan’s presidential aide Ibrahim Hamid in remarks from the Chadian capital after his meeting with Deby Wednesday.
In an alternative roadmap for the national dialogue released on 14 September, SRF groups demand stopping the war to provide security, guarantee humanitarian access to all civilians affected by the conflict and create conducive climate for holding peace talks and dialogue besides allowing fundamental freedoms and holding the pre-dialogue meeting in accordance with AUPSC resolutions 539 and 456 to establish frameworks, modalities, and procedures for a credible, transparent, inclusive, and comprehensive dialogue.
They further declared their willingness to six a six-month cessation of hostilities with the government once these conditions are met.
SLM-AW leader Abdel-Wahid al-Nur, for his part, said that just and enduring peace couldn’t be achieved unless security is being provided to the citizens on the ground by adopting the roadmap offered by his movement.
He said the roadmap of his group requires the government to create a conducive environment to peace by stopping genocide, killing, displacement and rape besides disarming the Janjaweed militiamen and evicting the new settlers from the land of the IDP’s and refugees, and providing individual and collective freedoms before embarking on any peaceful process.
The SLM-AW says since several years they can only discuss with Khartoum the root causes of the conflict but before negotiations Khartoum must unilaterally repair the consequences of the 12-year conflict.
DIALOGUE BODY CONFIRMS REBELS PARTICIPAION
Mean while, Sudan’s dialogue coordination body known as 7+7 has disclosed Sunday that several rebel leaders would accompany Deby to attend the opening session of the national dialogue conference next Saturday.
Last week, several rebel factions including SLM- Abu al-Gasim Imam, SLM-Unity of Abdallah Yahia and SLM-Justice led Taher Hajer confirmed to Sudan Tribune they would travel soon to Chad for a follow-up meeting with the Chadian authorities on ways to achieve peace in Sudan but denied meetings with Sudanese officials.
Sudan’s minister of information and member of the 7+7 mechanism, Ahmed Bilal Osman, stressed that rebel leaders would arrive in Khartoum to engage in the dialogue but he declined to disclose names of those leaders on the pretext that some armed movements had dismissed their members who welcomed the dialogue.
He told reporters on Sunday that the dialogue conference would convene on October 10th at 9:00 am (Local time), pointing that Deby will attend the opening session.
Osman said he doesn’t rule out that several rebel leaders would accompany Deby on his plane, stressing that a surprise would be announced during the first day of the conference.
The information minister further underscored that the international community supports the national dialogue, pointing that the African Union, Arab League and some European countries who wish to see a stable Sudan support the process.