Thursday, December 04, 2003

Sudan: one more peace accord ... and other stuff

Today in Jeddah, Sudanese VP Ali Osman Taha signed a peace accord with Mohammed Osman al-Mirghani, leader of the northern opposition group, Democratic Unionist Party.
Mirghani, who lives in exile in Cairo and Asmara, had recently warned that his party's exclusion from the government's peace talks with the southern Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) augured badly for peace prospects.

SPLA leader John Garang told AFP on Wednesday that he wants to share power not only with President Omar al-Beshir but with other political leaders once the ongoing peace process brings an end to the 20-year civil war.

He had met in Cairo in May with Mirghani and Sadeq al-Mahdi, head of the Umma Party, the other main northern opposition party. (link)
Now to the west and the conflict in Darfur ... the rebel group, Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) want separate talks with the government, in the presence of international observers. They refuse to join the talks in Chad (proposed for Dec 10) between the government and the other western rebel group, Sudan Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/M). JEM's spokesperson accuses Chad of being biased towards Khartoum.

As for SLA/M and the gov't ... the ceasfire negotiated between them in Chad in September has crumbled ... and SLA/M don't want to attend any more talks unless they get "some points" settled.
The Darfur conflict has escalated since early November with an upsurge in Arab militia activity, which has left western Darfur largely inaccessible. Amnesty International says there is "compelling evidence" of government involvement in the attacks, charges which the government denies.

Observers say the government may have lost control over the militias to varying degrees.
Oh yes ... the government is going to receive SPLA/M delegate in Khartoum on Friday, for the first time ever ...
[SPLA/M spokesperosn Yassir] Arman told the independent newspaper Akhbar Al Youm that the delegation also seeks to transform the SPLM into a mass political movement that covers all regions of Sudan.

... In Khartoum, SPLA representatives launched a media campaign Wednesday, holding their first press conference here since the war broke out.

Ramadan Mohamed Abdullah, a Khartoum resident who identified himself as SPLM spokesman, said his movement had operated here clandestinely for years, with members risking arrest, but could now go public because of progress toward peace.

He said the delegation would meet Beshir and other NCP officials as well as leaders of the opposition Umma, Democratic Unionist, Popular Congress and other partries in addition to heads of the civil society groups.