London, Asharq Al-Awsat- The US President’s special envoy to Sudan, Retired Gen Scott Gration, accompanied a delegation of the Sudanese Justice and Equality movement to Doha the day before yesterday, amid reports that he exerted pressure on the movement’s leaders to declare a cease-fire for 90 days.
A delegation from Khartoum has arrived in Doha to discuss ways to implement the goodwill agreement, which was signed in February between the Sudanese Government and the Justice and Equality Movement. The movement emphasizes that its engagement in any negotiations is contingent on the implementation of the Doha agreement.
Shortly before joining his movement’s delegation in Doha, the official spokesman for the Justice and Equality Movement, Ahmad Hussein Adam, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the US President’s envoy to Sudan met with the movement’s leader, Dr. Khalil Ibrahim, and other leaders in the Chadian capital, N’Djamena, for two consecutive days. He added that the talks focused on the US envoy’s request that Khartoum and the movement agree on a cease-fire for 90 days, in addition to the humanitarian situation following the expulsion of the relief aid organizations.
The spokesman said his movement set a condition that a cease-fire be declared under a framework agreement and that Khartoum implement what it agreed upon with the movement in Doha in February.
He added: “We are going to Doha in a delegation consisting of seven leaders of the movement upon a request by the mediators, especially US Special Envoy Scott Gration, who took with him a number of leaders on board his plane.”
He noted that his movement will not engage in negotiations with Khartoum over a cease-fire until after it sees the goodwill agreement being implemented on the ground. Afterward, he added, negotiations may be held on a framework agreement for a cease-fire, to be followed by a declaration of principles on the issues that the two sides will discuss.
He said that, during his delegation’s talks with Gration, the two parties reached a number of understandings, particularly on the humanitarian and security conditions in Darfur. He added that the movement’s delegation informed Gration that Khartoum is responsible for the ongoing violations, especially Khartoum’s persistent refusal to implement what was agreed upon.
Adam expressed his movement’s appreciation of the efforts that Obama’s envoy has made. However, he emphasized that his movement is not going to Doha to engage in negotiations.
He explained that his movement will hold continuous meetings with the mediators to see if there is progress in the implementation of the Doha goodwill agreement on the release of the movement’s prisoners who are held by the government over the Darfur crisis. He added that his movement will also discuss humanitarian issues, a halt to the violations that take place in the refugee camps, and delivery of the relief aid.
He denied that the arrival of his movement’s delegation in Doha has anything to do with the agreement that the Sudanese and Chadian Governments signed in the Qatari capital two days ago to put an end to their hostilities.
He said: “We have nothing to do with the agreement that the governments of Khartoum and N’Djamena signed in Doha. However, we welcome such agreements because they are within the framework of the two countries’ relations.”
He denied that his movement would engage in goodwill measures with the Sudanese Government as a result of pressure by the United States and mediators. He said: “No one can pressure us. We want to give the US mediator and envoy an opportunity to see for himself Khartoum’s procrastinations and lack of seriousness in implementing any agreement. We will prove to them this point in Doha too.”
Meanwhile, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement [SPLM] will not go to Doha with the Khartoum delegation as a subordinate and added that the SPLM has a clear vision on how to resolve the Darfur crisis.
The sources said that the [ruling] National Congress Party attempts to unilaterally resolve all sensitive issues, such as the Darfur crisis.
The sources added: “The SPLM leaders say they are not guests or strangers to the issues of Sudan. They say they have sufficient relations with international movements and the international community and that they can use these relations to reach a just and comprehensive resolution to the crisis and to achieve stability.”
For his part, the media attaché at the Sudanese Embassy in Doha, Dr Ibrahim al-Shush, told Asharq Al-Awsat by telephone that negotiations between his government and the Justice and Equality Movement may be resumed.
He noted that these negotiations were suspended for a while because the movement insists on the release of persons who have been sentenced to death. He said the movement claims that they are prisoners and wants the relief organizations, which the government expelled, to be allowed to return.
Al-Shush said the problem is that there are many movements and each one claims that it is the strongest militarily. Any cease-fire agreement must be comprehensive, not with only one movement, he noted.
Al-Shush said: “The agenda of the upcoming negotiations in Doha includes agreement on a cease-fire. However, the movements concerned must agree among themselves in order to facilitate a cease-fire agreement.”