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Sudan Rebel Group Welcomes Salva Kiir’s Mediation Role

  • Peter Clottey

A 2009 file photo of Sudanese rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) leader Khalil Ibrahim during a Darfur peace meeting in Doha, Qatar

A 2009 file photo of Sudanese rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) leader Khalil Ibrahim during a Darfur peace meeting in Doha, Qatar

A leading member of the Darfur-based Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) says his rebel group will soon send a powerful delegation to hold consultations with south Sudan’s President Salva Kiir.

JEM’s spokesman Ahmed Aden welcomed Mr. Kiir’s decision to act as mediator for an upcoming peace talks between his group, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s dominant National Congress Party (NCP), and the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) as well as other Darfur-based rebel groups.

“We welcome it, and I think that President Salva Kiir is in a good position to have [a] successful initiative in this because he has good relations with all the others and all the conflicting parties. We hope that the NCP [will] be wise enough and to have a positive reaction and a positive move to also welcome this move,” he said.

It is however not clear if the NCP will accept Mr. Kiir’s mediation.

Early this year, JEM withdrew from talks with President Bashir’s government after accusing the administration of attacking its positions in Darfur’s western region in the midst of negotiations.

JEM’s chief negotiator Ahmed Tugod said his group was “freezing the talks to protest the government’s cease-fire violation including airstrikes and attacks by ground troops”.

The rebel group also announced its refusal to abide by two previous agreements it signed with the government.

The government is currently holding talks with Justice and Liberty Movement, another Darfur-based rebel group in Qatar’s capital, Doha. The talks are aimed at reaching a peace deal by mid-July.

But, JEM’s spokesman Aden said there would not be peace in Darfur without the full participation of his group.

“There is a deadlock now in Doha. Doha failed completely to help the conflicting parties to reach any kind of agreement. The humanitarian situation on the ground is worsening every day. The NCP and the regime in Khartoum want to [impede] some of the aid workers and make a lot of restrictions on the ground, harassing the IDP’s [internally Displaced People]. So, the situation is very bad… as in 2004 and 2005,” Aden said.

Salva Kiir, who doubles as Sudan’s first vice president, decided to take a personal role in resolving the ongoing Darfur conflict after Djibril Bassole, the joint U.N./African Union mediator asked him to help resolve the crisis.

Mr. Kiir is expected to persuade the rebel groups to join another round of peace talks to resolve the Darfur crisis.

Aden said only a political solution could help resolve the Darfur crisis.

“I think that President Salva Kiir has the ability to help the conflicting parties so that we can find exit strategies to the stalemate and to the deadlock which we are having right now in Darfur and in Sudan in general,” Aden said.

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