By Mahmoud A. Suleiman
April 5, 2009 — Political analysts say that the hard-earned declaration of good will and confidence-building agreement signed on Tuesday February the 17th 2009 in the Qatari capital Doha between the government of Sudan (GoS) and the key rebel group Sudan Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) represented a sought after window of opportunity to help settling the 6-year conflict in Darfur. Moreover, the preliminary agreement was thought to pave the way for an inclusive broader peace talks between the government of the National Unity (GNU), JEM and the Darfur rebel groups for achieving a lasting resolution to the Darfur crisis.
The Doha accord brokered by the Qataris, observers believed that the rebel group the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) was intended to achieve the following objectives:
1) To test whether the National Congress Party (NCP) regime was serious partner with credible intentions to enter in peace talks with the view to resolving the crisis in the Darfur region, given the notoriety of the regime in violating agreements.
2) To respond to the International Community’s relentless good intended calls to resort to peace talks
3) To bring about an end to the continuing 6-year suffering of the people of Sudan in Darfur and Kordofan and elsewhere especially the IDPs and refugees
4) To honour the promise given to the people of Sudan in Darfur that JEM will fight for the restoration of the rights of compensation of individuals and collective for losses incurred and that JEM is capable of negotiating the outstanding issues on the Conflict that include Power Sharing, Wealth Sharing, Land tenure (Hawakeer), Security Arrangements and Post War Reconstruction and Rehabilitation.
As predicted, the NCP regime has blatantly dishonoured the Doha agreement by:
1) What JEM called it government of Sudan” “dragging its feet” in submitting the list of their POW’s that they pledged in the Doha accord to release while JEM have provided a full list of Sudanese soldiers they are holding.
2) The Sudanese government expelled 13 International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGO) from Darfur, leaving more than one million people in Darfur without food rations, water and healthcare after accusing them of passing information to the International Criminal Court (ICC) which issued an arrest warrant on 4th March 2009 against president Omer Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir in connection with war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur. The expulsion of aid agents is a breach of the Doha goodwill agreement which stated that the parties commit themselves to refrain from IDP’s harassment and to not obstruct the delivery of humanitarian aid to the displaced”.
Furthermore, JEM now considers the Doha agreement they signed with the government of Sudan (GoS) null and void given the following factors:
1) In the wake of the formal indictment and issuance of arrest warrant for Omer al-Bashir on March the 4th 2009 the judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber I at the ICC on seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, which include murder, rape and torture, he is no longer a legitimate partner in the Darfur peace talks .He has lost the eligibility from a legal standpoint to be a president.
2) The undeserved support of State of Qatar for the ICC indicted fugitive al-Bashir in their capacity as a president of Arab League Summit for the next 12 month, makes Doha unfit for the purpose of being Darfur peace talks broker; their impartiality has been irreparably tarnished. The position taken by the Qataris in support of the NCP regime in Khartoum without giving any consideration to their role in the Darfur peace process was surprising but not totally shocking, given Doha’s vision on the crisis in Darfur and its defence for al-Bashir and the Arab entity at the UNCS. Observers believed from the outset that the Qatari Darfur peace initiative was disingenuous and was intended to rescue the embattled al-Bashir from his unenviable predicaments with the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague.
3) The position of the Arab League of totally rejecting the arrest warrant against al-Bashir and that Darfur problem as different from that of Gaza: JEM considered the statement made by the Arab League Secretary Amr Moussa that the Darfur conflict as a civil war and that of Gaza an occupation by a foreign force is an insult on injury for the people of Darfur and peace lovers!
4) JEM finds the statement by the joint UN-AU Mediator Djibril Bassolé before the UN Security Council (UNSC) on March 26th 2009 that the ICC decision of arrest warrant for al-Bashir as the main hindrance for the peace process in Darfur as frustrating. The people of Sudan in Darfur strongly believe that justice and peace are of equal importance and no one of them supersedes the other in the Darfur conflict and they call for the ICC decision takes its course of action whilst the peace building process takes its path!
5) Given the history of the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party (NCP/NIF) regime’s very poor record of abiding by agreements with Sudanese parties, there would seem to be little reason JEM and other political forces to expect that the regime will honour agreements at any time. It appears utterly pointless and a waste of effort to strike further deals with this regime in the future.
6) JEM has learned the lessons that have come out of the 21st Arab League countries Summit which was characterised by double standards, absolute and unreserved support of the genocidaire’ fugitive al-Bashir, particularly the government of Qatar which tried to broker Darfur peace talks. Accordingly JEM will focus its efforts to fight for the rights of the people of Sudan in Darfur.
7) Since then, JEM has gone from strength to strength by more than 11 Darfur rebel groups merging with it in a concerted effort for the long-waited unification. The most recent historic move being the Sudan Liberation Movement-Unity (SLM – Unity) led by Commander Suleiman Jamous accompanied by 20 commanders and their soldiers joining on the 3rd April 2009, while SLA led by Commander Osman Ishaq Arabi joined with his 600 troops on March 26th 2009.
The elusive National Congress Party (NCP) regime headed by the ICC indicted fugitive Omer Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir has been responsible for the civil wars, mass exodus of population from their homelands, the continuing nationwide misery of the people of Sudan and the Darfur’s grim ‘genocide by attrition’, using Eric Reeves’ phrase, to continue. The Sudanese public has endured hardships at all fronts in their daily life brought about by a far right fundamentalist minority clique that is clinging to power at all costs and orchestrating racial and religious hatred and denying the citizens their basic human rights and committing atrocious war crimes and crimes against humanity. The nature of this evil group will never change and the only way for the Sudanese people to save themselves and achieve their goals in life with dignity is to wake up collectively to topple it. These war criminals deserve to be thrown into the history dustbin. At the end the people of Sudan in Darfur inevitably will understand that the primary responsibility for acquiring their rights depends on them. We pray to the martyrs of Darfur Glory and Immortality and tireless struggle until Victory.
Dr. Mahmoud A. Suleiman is the Deputy Chairman of the General Congress for Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). He can be reached at [email protected]