Home | News    Sunday 14 March 2010

US official says Darfur’s Nur forfeited peace opportunity

March 13, 2010 (DOHA) — The leader of Sudan Liberation Movement Abdel-Wahid Mohamed Nur has wasted a "historical" opportunity to join the peace talks and the accord signed in the Arab Gulf state of Qatar, the US special envoy to Sudan Scott Gration said today.

"He [Al-Nur] isolated himself and believe that he either does not want anything or does not know what he wants and we gave him a historical opportunity and extended many invitations to him but he has had his chance" Gration told reporters in a press conference at the US Ambassador’s residence in the Qatari capital.

Last month, the Sudanese government and the Darfur Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) signed a temporary ceasefire and a framework agreement in Doha paving the way for direct negotiations and a comprehensive peace accord.

While JEM is considered a militarily strong group, observers say that the absence of Al-Nur who belongs to the Fur tribe, considered the largest in Darfur, will mean that any peace agreement signed will not end the conflict. He enjoys wide support among Darfur’s IDP’s.

Al-Nur’s persistent demands for security in Darfur as a prerequisite for sitting at the negotiation table has frustrated diplomats and mediators alike. Gration has sought to convince loyal IDP’s and SLM field commanders to overthrow him but was met with stiff resistance.

Gration said that the Doha accord marked a turning point for a resolution to the seven years conflict and called on both sides to "strictly" abide by it through the cessation of hostilities and violence so as start working on issues such as compensations, return of IDP’s to their homes, development projects in order to combat unemployment and improve the socio-economic lives of Darfuris.

The US official said that the compensation thorny issue will be determined through the participation of civil society and refugees in the peace agreement adding that he does not see any major obstacles preventing the implementation of the accord.

Furthermore, the envoy expressed hope that the agreements are done early so they can move into the implementation phase… “So that the people begin as soon as possible to experience peace and security and move on with their lives… we want this to happen now, the sooner the better, because they need to live in better conditions.”

He stressed that Washington is working for the people of Darfur and help Sudanese people expressing their wills through peaceful means such as elections. On Chad-Sudan relations he said that recent thaw between the two countries will reflect positively on the region’s security.

"We are pleased with what has been achieved on better ties between the two countries to ensure stability across the border between this building and reconciliation that would benefit the two peoples and the region as a whole and hopefully the continuation of this matter for the maintenance of regional security and stability and to promote peace in Darfur" Gration said.

Gration praised the Qatari role in brokering the recent deal saying that without Doha’s “tremendous efforts, which not only helped the negotiations, but also their efforts to unite the rebel groups to bring members of civil society here to do requisite training goes far beyond just negotiations, they have actually been wonderful in picking up tasks far beyond what is required as a facilitator…”

On elections, Gration said that the US administration is looking forward to having the “big election” in Sudan this April.

“This election is the first time in 24 years that the people in Sudan can express their will through the ballot and I think this is very important, because the process that are put into place now, the political transformation, the democratization that is happening right now might set the future generation a way of expressing their will through the ballot and not the bullet” he said.

He said he believes that the elections should be held as planned despite growing demands from the Sudanese opposition that they be delayed till next November.