The Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir yesterday announced that peace was returning to the Darfur region, despite a stalemate in ceasefire talks brokered by the African Union and continuous fighting that has driven thousands from their homes this year.
Al-Bashir gave a speech at a ceremony in El-Fasher, the main town in the North Darfur state, that was attended by the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Chad’s President Idriss Deby and the president of the Central African Republic Faustin Archange Touadéra.
It is noteworthy that Qatar hosted successive rounds of peace talks between the government in Khartoum, which is dominated by Arabs, and ethnic minority rebel movements that took up arms in 2003. The Doha 2011 talks resulted in a peace deal with a small rebellious faction called the Liberation and Justice Movement, and a ceremony was held yesterday to mark its implementation.
In front of crowds of thousands of people, Al-Bashir stated that “We announce to all the people of Darfur and Sudan that we have implemented our commitments” and pointed out that “Darfur today is better than yesterday. And tomorrow it will be better.”
However, Al-Bashir who has pledged to develop the region ravaged by wars, did not openly announce the end of the conflict that has been ongoing for the last 13 years in Darfur. Amid cheers, Al-Bashir said that he will establish roads, improve the level of education and health, water and electricity services, and said that efforts are being made to reconcile tribes in Darfur. Television footage showed crowds and many of them carried pictures of Al-Bashir and the Emir of Qatar.