Darfur peace talks begin in Qatar

The Sudanese government and a key rebel faction Tuesday began their peace talks in Doha, capital of Qatar, in a bid to end a five-year civil war.

In his speech to open the talks, Qatari Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Hamadbin Jasim bin Jabir al-Thani said the Qatari-brokered talks on peace in Darfur is about to make a significant breakthrough towards a comprehensive settlement of the conflict.

It is the first peace contact since 2007 between the Sudanese government and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), he was quoted by Qatar’s official news agency as saying.

The first round of peace talks is the fruit of concerted efforts made by Qatar, the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), the United Nations and the African Union, he added.

He expressed the confidence that the talks would lay a sound groundwork for a settlement involving all parties “without exception.”

Nafie Ali Nafie, adviser of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, reaffirmed the desire of the government to establish peace and move to the reconstruction process at an early date, according to the report.

“Our determination to pursue peace over the last years has not changed,” Nafie said, voicing hope that the current round of talks would bear fruit.

Meanwhile, JEM Chairman Khalil Ibrahim expressed a similar desire to end the bloodshed and establish a permanent and comprehensive peace in the region.

He said his movement was against any partial solutions that do not tackle the core issues such as the right of the Darfur population to self-determination.

Sudan’s other rebel groups, which are not included in the meeting, warned that the Sudanese government would use the peace talks to save the Sudanese president, who is accused of war crimes in Darfur.

The International Criminal Court is expected soon to issue an arrest warrant for al-Bashir for his alleged role in atrocities in the area.

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