|Africa News Digest
Darfur Rebel Groups Unify for Talks with Sudan Government
Aug. 13 (EIRNS)After four days of talks in Arusha, Tanzania, Darfur's rebel groups on Aug. 6 agreed on a common platform for upcoming peace negotiations with the Sudan government. Eight rebel factions participated, agreeing on "a common platform on power sharing, wealth sharing, security arrangements, land, and humanitarian issues, for the final negotiations," according to an AFP release carried by the South Africa news service IOL, on Aug. 8.
The meeting began Aug. 3, three days after the UN Security Council approved the United Nations-African Union agreement for a hybrid, 26,000-strong peacekeeping force to be deployed into the Darfur region of Sudan. This had been agreed upon in negotiations in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, involving the AU, the UN, and the government of Sudan, on June 12. The Arusha talks were also attended by representatives of neighboring Chad, Egypt, Eritrea, and Libya.
The two top mediators in the Arusha talks between the rebel factions were UN envoy Jan Eliasson and AU representative Salim Ahmed Salim. They are to travel to Khartoum soon, to consult with the government.
"We would want to see concrete commitment" from the Sudan government to a ceasefire, Salim told reporters after the talks. Salim and Eliasson now have to get the Khartoum to agree to negotiate on the rebel demands. The rebels at the Arusha meeting said they were ready to respect "a complete cessation of hostilities, provided that all other parties make similar commitments."
No details of the rebels' position on power-sharing and wealth-sharing were revealed; these are the issues which have been the cause of the failure of negotiations in the past.
One prominent rebel leader living in France, Abdel Wahed Mohamed el-Nur, did not attend. He does not have many troops on the ground, but reportedly commands a lot of support among Darfuris forced into refugee camps.
The Hassan al-Turabi-linked rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement, which played a critical role in initiating the conflict in 2003, stressed that positions had simply been harmonized, but that no compromises with Khartoum had been agreed to. "We have not given up the resistance yet, spokesman Ahmed Hussein Adam told AFP. He also said that the demand that senior Sudanese regime officials be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity, was still on the table.