Home | News    Friday 5 December 2014

Mbeki adjourns Sudan’s Darfur peace talks indefinitely

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By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

December 4, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – Thabo Mbeki, the African Union’s (AU) chief mediator, announced on Thursday that peace talks on Sudan’s troubled Darfur region would be adjourned indefinitely.

Chief AU mediator and former South African president Thabo Mbeki speaks to the media after his meeting with Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir in Khartoum on 6 April 2012 (Photo: Getty Images)

The AU-brokered talks were being held in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, between the Sudanese government and rebel delegations from the Justice and Equality Movement and the Minni Minnawi-led faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-MM).

Talks had been scheduled to resume on Thursday on a cessation of hostilities agreement and security arrangements in Darfur.

Mbeki’s decision to suspend the talks comes after Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir rejected a request to extend the government delegation’s mandate to include comprehensive talks.

The former South African president on Tuesday sent a special envoy to Khartoum to ask Bashir to grant the government delegation to negotiate on a number of key rebel demands.

Rebels had called for comprehensive talks in order to widen the scope of negotiations.

However, the president insisted that talks be limited to achieving a cessation of hostilities agreement in line with the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD).

As a result, Mbeki subsequently ordered the government delegation to remain in Khartoum if it was unwilling to change its position.

The chief negotiator later met with the rebel groups to advise them of the to suspension of talks until further notice.

REBELS REACT TO DECISION

Ahmed Tugod, chief negotiator for the joint Darfur rebel delegation, blamed the Khartoum government responsible for the collapse of the peace process.

“We came here with an open mind and heart to bring peace to the conflict, but the government isn’t genuine and serious,” Tugod told Sudan Tribune.

“They don’t want to take on board all other important issues needed to be addressed other than [the] ceasefire agreement,” he added.

Tugod accused Khartoum of having “zero” interest in engaging in a constructive dialogue to bring peace and alleviate the suffering of the Darfuri people.

“We want the Sudanese people and the international community to know that the government is favouring [a] military option instead of [a] peaceful settlement,” he said.

Conflict in Sudan’s western Darfur region flared in 2003 and has killed an estimated 300,000 people and displaced more than two million.

Meanwhile, peace talks between the Sudanese government and SPLM-N rebels on the Two Areas is due to resume on Friday in Addis Ababa.

However, observers say the failure to move forward with the Darfur process would also see the collapse of these negotiations.

(ST)

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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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