Darfur rebels show varying positions on N’djamena meetings with Sudanese officials

September 30, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – Darfur’s rebel movements have shown contrasting positions regarding media reports about meetings between rebel delegates and Sudanese officials in N’djamena under the auspices of the Chadian president, Idris Deby.

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Rebel fighters from the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), active in Sudan’s western Darfur region (AFP)

A well placed source told Sudan Tribune Tuesday that Deby would meet with a Sudanese presidential delegation and members from Darfur rebel groups on Wednesday to convince the latter to join the national dialogue.

However, the leader of the SLM-MM, Minni Minnawi, denied to Sudan Tribune his knowledge of any meeting with Deby in N’djamena, saying “I haven’t received any contacts as of yet and I will not visit Chad at this time”.

On Wednesday, the leader of the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement for Justice/Karbino (SLMJ-K), al-Tahir Abu Bakr Hajar, told Sudan Tribune that he received an invitation from the Chadian government to continue consultations held in N’djamena last December on Darfur’s peace process.

He called on the rebel leaders, in particular the leader of Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), Khalil Ibrahim, leader of the SLM-MM Minni Minnawi and leader of the SLM-AW Abdel-Wahid al-Noor to seek to unify the negotiations forum.

Hajar stressed that he will fly to N’djamena next week to continue talks with the Chadian government not to meet with Sudanese officials.

Also, on Tuesday the SLM-Imam leader Abu al-Gasim Imam told Sudan Tribune that he was invited by the Chadian government to come to N’djamena for consultations on the peace process but not to meet with any representatives from the Sudanese government.

He added that the invitation they received was offered to the Alliance of Liberation Forces including the Sudan Liberation Movement for Justice led by al-Tahir Hajar, Sudan Liberation Movement the Second Revolution and the Liberation and Unity Movement.

It should be mentioned that the government delegation will hold consultations with Deby on Wednesday to be followed by another meeting on Saturday between the dialogue’s Liaison Committee and the rebel movements.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson of JEM, Jibril Adam Belal, said in a statement on Wednesday that his movement has no plans or intentions to meet with the regime in N’djamena or any other capital cities, describing the media reports as “totally unfounded”.

“According to our modest information, SLM-MM and SLM-AW won’t be part of the alleged N’djamena meetings,” he said.

Belal accused the Sudanese government of spreading the rumors about the N’djamena meeting in order to legitimize its “monologue” [government-led dialogue] and to make divisions among the components of the rebel umbrella Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF).

Sudan’s president Omer Hassan al-Bashir launched the national dialogue initiative in January 2014 but the process suffered major setbacks after the withdrawal of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) and the non-participation of the rebels as well as leftist forces.

The opposition groups say the dialogue should be chaired by a neutral body not Bashir.

They also say there is a need for an atmosphere of freedoms, to stop the war and allow humanitarian access to the civilians in the rebel held areas and to hold a pre-dialogue meeting abroad.