November 25, 2014 (SSNA) — Peace negotiations on the conflict in the Darfur region between the Sudanese government and two of the main rebel movements in Darfur started in Addis Ababa on Monday. The rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Minni Arko Minawi (SLM-MM) immediately handed the mediating African Union panel their vision for a comprehensive solution to Sudan’s political and other issues. Speaking to Radio Dabanga on Monday, Minawi accused the government’s delegation of “political propaganda”, through saying that the negotiations in the Ethiopian capital only concern a cessation of hostilities. “As leading mediator Thabo Mbeki said at the opening ceremony on Sunday, this is the start of a political process that resolves all the issues of Sudan,” the rebel leader repeated. During this speech, Mbeki emphasised the necessity to search for a comprehensive peace in Sudan (audio file). Last week, the chairman of the AU High-level Implementation Panel revealed that the track for peace negotiations on South Kordofan and Blue Nile states will be “synchronised” with the track for Darfur. These talks with the rebel SPLM-N are currently adjourned.
The leader of the government’s delegation, Amin Hassan Omar, said on Sunday that the Doha peace agreement (2011) should be implemented to lay a solid foundation for durable peace in Darfur, and called upon the JEM and the SLM-MM to subscribe to this agreement. “But the peace talks in Addis Ababa could be the ground for a comprehensive solution,” said JEM’s chief negotiator, Ahmed Tugud Lisan. He claimed that the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, signed in May 2011 by the Sudanese government and the Liberation and Justice Movement, and by JEM-Bashar in April 2013, “no longer applies”.
The Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdel Wahid El Nur has refused to take part in the Addis Ababa peace talks. “Personally and morally, I cannot go to this opening session, while my sisters are being raped in Tabit and killings still continue in Darfur, Nuba Mountains, and Blue Nile,” El Nur told Radio Dabanga last weekend.
Unamid office shut-down ‘not owing to rape investigation’: Sudan
Internally displaced people in Darfur stressed that troops of the UN-AU joint peacekeeping mission (Unamid) should not leave the region before they are replaced with alternative forces to protect them. Unamid confirmed that Khartoum had sent a verbal request to put an exit strategy from Darfur in place, days after the government blocked Unamid from sending a second investigation team to Tabit. The village near El Fasher, North Darfur, is suspected to have been the scene of a mass rape of many -“about 200”, according to a village elder- women and girls by Sudanese soldiers on 31 October. A Unamid spokesman has stated that such an exit strategy is already considered in UN Security Council resolution 2173.
Speaking to Radio Dabanga for the displaced population, Hussein Abu Sharati, the spokesman for a Darfur refugees association, accused Unamid of having “a clear lack of care towards the displaced”, but still feared that civilians will be targeted more in case the peacekeepers withdraw. Sudan has already shut the Khartoum-based human rights office of Unamid, calling the bureau outside Darfur “a violation of its mandate”. The Foreign Ministry explained that it is not a “restriction because of the spreading of false allegations about a mass rape in Tabit”. “We are trying to return … Unamid to its mandate,” under-secretary Abdallah Azraq said. Last Friday, Azraq told the press that any re-investigations of the mass rape “is a humiliation for the state and a violation of the sovereignty of the state”, despite calls from the UNSC and the UN Secretary-General. The special prosecutor for crimes in Darfur, however, went to Tabit last Thursday to investigate the allegations. The government also escorted reporters to carry out inquiries that same day. Most reporters were identified as working for state-owned media.
After interviews conducted by Radio Dabanga with victims, health workers and elders in Tabit confirming the incident, Unamid sent a verification patrol on 9 November. It was accompanied by armed forces, security officers and police. The mission said in a public statement that it had not find any evidence to prove the rape allegations. According to an internal UN field report, however, the villagers seemed intimidated by the Sudanese forces and did not answer to questions freely.
More news from Radio Dabanga:
East Darfur villages burned, residents displaced
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15 die in new Misseriya clan clash in West Kordofan
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Four raped in Darfur’s East Jebel Marra
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Two children, soldiers die as army-Darfur rebels clash, Jebel Marra
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Worldwide protests, social media outrage grow for Darfur rape claims
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West Darfur displaced boycott elections registration
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North Darfur medics threaten strike after colleague attacked
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Church property confiscated in Khartoum while people pray inside
KHARTOUM (Updated 20:49) (20 Nov.) – The Sudanese police and special forces have seized the house of a pastor in Bahri, Khartoum North, on Wednesday. In the meantime, leaders from various churches in Khartoum,… FULL STORY
Sudanese students supporting Darfuris beaten, detained
KHARTOUM (19 Nov.) – More than 100 students were detained on Monday during a raid on the University of Bahri in Khartoum. A woman student told Radio Dabanga that agents of the National Intelligence… FULL STORY
16 Darfur rebels sentenced to 13 years
EL FASHER (19 Nov.) – On Monday the Special Court in El Fasher, capital of North Darfur convicted 16 members of the armed movements for charges of violating laws on criminal association, arms and… FULL STORY