Home | News    Saturday 4 August 2007

AU mediator tells Darfur rebels ‘Don’t look back’


By: Wasil Ali

August 8, 2007 (Arusha) — The African Union (AU) mediator Salim Ahmed Salim urged Darfur rebels not to look back to “apportion blame” in his opening remarks at the outset of talks aimed at finding common ground among non-signatories of Darfur peace agreement (DPA).

Salim Ahmed Salim

Salim praised the Darfur rebel attendees for taking a “first courageous step” towards finding peaceful resolution of the Darfur crisis

However the Arusha talks were overshadowed by the absence of the most popular rebel leader Abdul Wahed al-Nur, a founder of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM).

Al-Nur told Sudan Tribune that the Arusha talks are “meaningless without security in Darfur”.

Salim expressed his regret that AL-Nur has decided to boycott the meeting expressing hope that he will “join his brothers and sisters from Darfur”.

Observers have expressed skepticism about the chances of a successful outcome from the talks. Some rebel groups have suggested that a new peace strategy is warranted.

Ahmed Hussein Adam, a spokesman for the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) told Sudan Tribune that his group is coming to Arusha “with open minds” but cautioned that procedural arrangements during and before the talks must be set up “with consideration of their point of view”.

Adam also said that pressure should be applied on Khartoum and not just the rebel groups.

The talks were delayed considerably due to logistical issues related to the arrival of rebel leaders to Arusha. Some field commanders are scheduled to arrive some time today.

However another key influential Darfuri figure Suleiman Jamous imprisoned by the Sudanese government is not expected to join the talks despite pleas by world activists for his release.

Jamous, the Sudan Liberation Army’s humanitarian coordinator, has been virtually imprisoned in the city of Kadugli for 13 months after being moved to a U.N. hospital there for treatment. Khartoum says it will arrest him if he leaves.

Jamous is believed to be critical to any rebel unification efforts given the fact that he is very respected among various factions.

Sources close to the AU told Sudan Tribune that the mediators are in constant contact with Khartoum to secure his release.

Hopes for a resolution of the Darfur crisis were given a boost following last Tuesday’s voyte at the UN Security Council (UNSC) on a resolution authorizing 26,000 peacekeepers to the troubled region.

At least 200,000 people are believed to have died and more than two million have been left homeless since 2003.

Sudan’s government and pro-government Arab Janjaweed militias are accused of war crimes against the region’s black African population, although the UN has stopped short of calling it genocide.


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