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Sudanese Analyst Pessimistic about Possible Deal between Government and Rebels

The prime minister of Qatar, which is mediating peace talks between Sudan and Darfur rebels, said Monday that both sides will sign a deal on confidence-building measures Tuesday. Sheikh Hamad bin Jasim al-Thani gave no details but said the agreement could lead to wider peace talks.

Officials of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement also said they have reached a basic prisoner exchange agreement with the Sudanese government.

Qatar has been mediating between Sudan and the Justice and Equality Movement, while other rebel groups are boycotting the talks.

Darfur-born Ali Ali-Dinar is president of the Darfur Alert Coalition in Philadelphia and associate director of the African Studies Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Ali-Dinar tells VOA reporter James Butty he's pessimistic because the Sudan government has never been committed to peace.

"The issue is not the signing of an agreement or signing memorandum of understanding of good intentions, but to what extent you are genuinely and seriously committed to peace because before this negotiation in Doha, there are other initiatives between the government and other rebel groups, but unfortunately the government fulfilled its part. So I'm very pessimistic not with the text of what will be signed, but with the commitment and good intentions of the government Sudan to commit to what it signed," he said.

Ali-Dinar said the National Congress Party of President Omar al-Bashir has a history of not fully implementing past agreements, including the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement known as the CPA.

"Comprehensive Peace Agreement that is just one, but also there is Abuja Agreement which the government signed with one of the rebel groups, and that agreement also was not implemented. What people want on the ground is peace and that is not happening. The Sudanese people and the people of Darfur are just tired of such tactics," Ali-Dinar said.

He said President Bashir and the National Congress Party are simply trying to buy time.

"This is just a matter of buying time because the government of Sudan because the government has its own strategy so that it will not implement any kind of agreement it has signed. It has something you could say to do with the ICC (International Criminal Court) expected decision. So it's all politics and less of good intentions," he said.

Under the deal expected to be signed Tuesday, both the Sudanese government and the rebel Justice and Equality Movement agreed to exchange prisoners. But Ali-Dinar said the exchange is not a big deal.

"What about those millions of people who died and now being displaced inside and outside Sudan? Nothing is happening to them. This is also propaganda. What does it mean for you to exchange a couple of people while you have hundreds of thousands of your own population under the mercy of the international community providing with food, drinks and shelter," Ali-Dinar said.

International Criminal Court (ICC) judges are expected to rule within weeks on whether to issue a warrant for President Bashir's arrest over allegations that he masterminded genocide in Darfur.

Sudanese officials and the African Union have warned that Sudan peace talks could be undermined if the ICC indicts President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for war crimes in Darfur.

Ali-Dinar said the Sudanese people should decide what is good for their country and not the African Union.

"I think that is also extremely naïve for the African Union to meddle in this issue because this is the same position of protecting presidents and not the people. This is the same position the African Union took with regard to Mugabe (President of Zimbabwe), with regards to the conflict in Zimbabwe. This is the same position it took at some point in Kenya, this is the same position it took also in Somalia," Ali-Dinar said.