Sudan, Darfur armed groups kick off informal talks in Germany


From the lest, Minni Minnawi, Ali alHaj and Gibril Ibrahim pose for a picture with members of their delegations in Berlin 19 Dec 2017 (ST Photo)

April 16, 2018 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government and two armed groups from Darfur, Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Sudan Liberation Movement Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) Monday have started a two-day informal consultations meeting in Berlin.

In a joint statement extended to Sudan Tribune Monday, the two armed movements said the meeting is being held in an exceptional political, economic and security situation in Sudan.

They expressed hope that the government delegation came to Berlin with a true will and political resolve to overcome the obstacles that hinder the convening of genuine talks.

The statement pointed out that the meeting is dedicated to discussing the problem in Darfur.

“However the two movements are committed in letter and spirit to the outcome of the recent Sudan Call meeting and wouldn’t agree to any arrangement that doesn’t lead to an inclusive national solution for the Sudanese problem,” reads the joint statement released in Arabic.

The two armed groups added they accepted the invitation to participate in the Berlin meeting in order to “put an end to the protracted suffering of our people in the IDPs and refugee camps and the people of Darfur and Sudan in general”.

They further renewed their keenness to achieve just and comprehensive peace that addresses the root causes of the Sudanese problem.

The JEM and SLM-MM, in addition, thanked the German government and the international community for helping the parties to the conflict in Sudan to reach a solution for the country’s crises.

Berlin which is a facilitator for the African Union efforts to end armed conflicts in Sudan hosted several meetings in the past for the opposition groups or between the government and opposition.

The two sides are expected to negotiate a pre-negotiation agreement and if they struck a deal, it would pave the way for talks on a cessation of hostilities and then they will join the negotiations table to discuss political issues in Doha.

It is noteworthy that the JEM and SLM-MM delegations to the Berlin meeting are headed by the leaders of the two movements, Gibril Ibrahim and Minni Minnawi while the government team is chaired by Presidential Envoy for Diplomatic Contact and Negotiation for Darfur, Amin Hassan Omer.

The holdout groups including the JEM and SLM-MM refused to sign the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) in July 2011 and called to open the framework agreement for talks.

Other groups like the Sudan Liberation Movement – Abdel Wahid (SLM-AW) have declined to join the process and rejected its outcome.

The African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP) led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki proposed a holistic process to end the armed conflicts and produce political reforms in Sudan.

During the year 2015-2016, talks between the government and the SLM-MM and JEM failed to reach a tangible result despite international efforts to bring together the opposition groups and to narrow the gaps between them and the government.

The Sudanese army has been fighting a group of armed movements in Darfur since 2003. UN agencies estimate that over 300,000 people were killed in the conflict and over 2.5 million were displaced.

(ST)