Darfur Rebel Groups Agree to Move Peace Talks Forward
Human Rights First welcomes the conclusion of the Arusha consultations, a three-day meeting ending today, in which rebel leaders and other important stakeholders came together to discuss how to advance the Darfur peace process. Coming on the heels of last week’s U.N. Security Resolution committing to the deployment of peacekeeping troops in Darfur, the Arusha meeting was a useful next step in what promises to be a long road to peace in Darfur.
The purpose of the consultations was to allow rebel groups, particularly non-signatories to the Darfur Peace Agreement, to discuss their concerns and hopefully agree on a common pre-negotiating position. This meeting culminated in an agreement by rebel leaders to present a common platform at upcoming peace talks, to allow new participants to join the common platform, and to support ongoing U.N. consultations with affected groups.
While, according to the meeting summary released by special envoys from the U.N. and A.U., Jan Eliasson and Salim Salim, there is reason for renewed optimism, the foundation for a successful peace process has by no means been completely established.
Human Rights First welcomes the positive developments coming out of the meeting, but also has a number of concerns that must be addressed in order for the peace process to be effective:
- A common platform among rebel groups on the issues of greatest concern—power-sharing, wealth-sharing, security arrangements, land/tribal land ownership rights and humanitarian issues—must be sufficiently detailed and concrete so that it does not fall apart upon closer examination;
- Suleiman Jamous, humanitarian coordinator for the SLA and respected leader among a number of rebel groups, must be able to participate in the peace talks. Currently detained at a U.N. hospital in Kadugli, Suleiman Jamous must be freed and the Khartoum government must guarantee that they will not arrest him once he returns to Darfur;
- Rebel groups and leaders who did not participate in the Arusha talks must be drawn in, including field commanders and various important factions such as the SLA/AW;
- Violence between Arab factions constitutes a significant part of the killings on the ground recently, which means that there must be a strong effort to include Arab tribes in the consultation process.
A peace process that is not fully inclusive is destined to fail. Human Rights First will continue to monitor develops and advocate for concrete solutions leading to a sustainable peace in Darfur.