Wednesday, April 26, 2006

African Union Makes Final Proposals to End Darfur War

Rayaam (Abuja, 26 April 2006) - Report by Abu Obeda Abdalla
Translation from Arabic by John Akec

The African Union (AU) has presented a final proposals to break the deadlock in Darfur's peace talks in Abuja, Nigeria, last night. The proposals comprised 3 papers dealing with political power, wealth sharing, security arrangements, and Darfur-Darfur dialogue. The AU mediator has given both the government of Sudan and Darfur movements (SAL and JEM) 48 hours to give their views on the 3 papers. No comments have yet been made by either SLA or JEM, but Dr Majzoub Al Khalifa, head of Sudan government delegation at Abuja talks said that the government is serious to find a solution to Darfur's war. Khalifa refused to divulge the contents of the papers but said that the proposals will be studied carefully.

However, Rayaam has learnt that the AU proposals include the creation of a position of chief presidential assistant to be selected by the president of the republic amongst 3 nominations made by Sudan Liberation Army (SLA - two factions) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). The post holder will rank in the fourth position of power in the country (That is, after the president, first vice president, and vice president). The chief presidential assistant will be a member of the national Council of Ministers and will have wide privileges and will exercise siginficant political influence in national politics.

Furthermore, Darfur Movements will have 12 seats in the national parliament. They will be given rights to govern the national capital, Khartoum, through one state cabinet minister (instead of the position of governor of Khartoum which they have demanded earlier) until elections take place in Khartoum. There will also be an interim administration of Darfur with responsibility of overseeing the implementation of the peace agreement and return of the refugees.

The proposals were presented by Dr Salim Ahmed Salim, the AU chief mediator, in general meeting which was attended by the head of government negotiating team, Dr Majzoub Al Khalifa; Menai Arkoi and Abdalwahid Mohamed Al Nur, heads of SLA Factions; and Ahmed Nugud Lisan, the head of JEM's negotiating team. There was not a great deal of discussion about the proposals in that meeting.

In an open meeting, Dr Salim urged the parties to the conflict to rise up to the challenge and take bold decisions because the people of Darfur are waiting for results to emerge from the current peace talks. He asserted that the proposals are fair to all the parties, and are the best anyone can expect from these negations adding that the views of Darfur movements have been taken into account when these proposal were made by the AU. He asked the parties to bury their differences and overcome doubts over power sharing in the centre and Darfur region, and over issues of wealth, borders, and representation in the national parliament and to take decisions on the proposed solutions. He assured the parties that the underlying principles for the proposals is to maintain the unity of country as a valued member of African Union.

Salim also reminded the parties that the time for political manoeuvres, delay tactics, and rhetoric is over. The chief mediator, Ahamed Salim, also praised Sudan's vice president, Ali Taha, whose presence in Abuja during the recent talks he believes has helped greatly in "narrowing the gap" between the negotiating parties.


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