Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Leader of the Sudan Liberation Army –Revolutionary Forces Mahjoub Hussein said that a comprehensive international conference on Darfur will be held in the Libyan City of Al-Kafrah, which is adjacent to Darfur, in two weeks’ time.
He referred to a US-Libyan initiative, sponsored by US Envoy to Sudan Scott Gretion, to unify all rebel factions in Darfur to secure the people’s support before signing a peace agreement in the Qatari capital, Doha.
In the interview, Mahjoub Hussein emphasized that unity and a new Sudan with diverse groups are the objectives of his movement. He added that achievement of these objectives will resolve all the crises and problems from which Sudan currently suffers. At the same time, he called on the Sudanese Government not to cause any more crises to ensure that the separation of Darfur will not be considered as an option.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Which are the movements that merged with the Sudan Liberation Army?
[Hussein] Five movements merged with us, so we became six groups under the title “The Sudan Liberation Army — Revolutionary Forces”, and I am the commander. This situation will remain until a comprehensive conference has been held to unify all political and military bodies.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What were the most prominent results of your meeting with US Peace Envoy Scott Gretion?
[Hussein] We met with the US envoy in the presence of Libyan leaders. Other groups from Darfur were also present. A US-Libyan initiative, sponsored by the US envoy, was proposed to us. Under this initiative, the Darfur groups will unite to agree on a negotiating view.
An international conference will be held in the Libyan City of Al-Kafrah, which is adjacent to Darfur. All field military commanders as well as political leaders will take part in it. Also, it will be attended by representatives of the Darfur factions. About 80 percent of the groups will attend. In other words, eight groups will attend while only two groups will remain away. These are the Sudan Liberation Movement, led by Abdul-Wahid Nur (he resides in France), and the Justice and Equality Movement, led by Ibrahim Khalil.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What are the eight groups to which you referred?
[Hussein] They are: The Sudan Liberation Movement — the Unity leadership, the Sudan Liberation Movement — the Juba leadership, the Sudan Liberation Movement –the Southern Leadership, the Sudan Liberation Movement — the General Line, and the Democratic Movement for the Liberation of Sudan.
These six movements signed a declaration and an official political pact to unify their negotiating stands. Thus, we represent one single political-military body.
Also, there are three more movements. They are: The Sudan Liberation Movement, led by Ahmad Abdul-Shafi, and the Resistance Front, led by Bahar Abu-Qardah. Abdul-Wahid Nur [leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement] refused to join the group, but Ahmad Abdul-Shafi and Bahar Abu-Qardah agreed. We can say that these groups, especially the Sudan Liberation Movement, became close to unity. As regards the Justice and Equality Movement, however, Khalil alone remains outside the political game.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] When will the Al-Kafrah conference be held?
[Hussein] We are now in the preparation phase, together with the United Nations, Libya, and African Union. The conference will be held in two weeks’ time. International observers representing the EU and states, such as Britain, the United States, and France will attend the conference.
In addition, representatives of states neighboring Sudan, the Arab League, and the Organization of Islamic Conference will attend. The aim of this conference is to save Darfur.
Not only designated forces, but rather all political and military forces of Darfur will be represented at the conference. These include the displaced people and refugees, in addition to representatives of women, youth, students, the civil administration, and civil society. The aim of the conference is to set up a single political-military leadership that will negotiate with the government on Darfur.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] And where does the position of the Abdul-Wahid Nur movement lie?
[Hussein] It is a dissonant movement that does not represent the entire population of Darfur. It has been impaired and weakened. We are talking about a conference that will bring together all sections of the Darfur society and population.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What are the most important political features of the Libyan-US initiative?
[Hussein] The initiative is based on the representation of the armed movements and civil society forces of Darfur as a political-military grouping under a unified leadership.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Will you join the Doha negotiations after completing this step?
[Hussein] After the conference ends, we hope to go to Doha as a negotiating delegation of one single political-military group that represents the entire society of Darfur.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Will the Sudanese Government comply with what you agree upon?
[Hussein] We think so, because we will present a comprehensive peace plan. We hope that the Sudanese Government will be serious in closing this dossier and that it will not create other crises. We also hope that it will deal with all historical and cultural aspects of the Darfur crisis.
The authority has to devise a new equation that will include all aspects of life in Darfur. We want a new state based on fair foundations, because the current regime in Sudan does not represent the entire Sudanese people. We want a change to the constitution and the law that will respect the identity of all groups of the Sudanese people.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Is the ongoing conflict in the south over a political settlement in Darfur?
[Hussein] I believe that the beginning of the crisis in the south is similar to the beginning of the Darfur crisis. We want a united Sudan in which all ethnic and religious groups will be respected under constitutional legitimacy.
The south achieved numerous benefits. Regrettably, however, it exerts all pressures to gain more. It is best to deal with all problems through a new Sudan that will accommodate everyone.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Will the Darfur population vote in the presidential elections?
[Hussein]President Al-Bashir announced his win in the elections even before they began. The best evidence of this fact is the census that was conducted for the elections, a census that we consider humiliating. I believe that the Darfur population will not vote in these elections, and we call on them not to elect anyone, including President Al-Bashir.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What will happen if the negotiations for peace in Darfur fail? In this case, will you put forward the option of separation?
[Hussein] We are the advocates of national unity and a unified Sudan based on pluralism and recognition of one another, a Sudan based on a state constitution and equal citizenship. However, if the regime insists on maintaining the current situation, we will have the right to self-determination, like the south.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you not believe that the Abuja agreement can impose peace in Darfur?
[Hussein] The Abuja agreement lost its credibility and legitimacy. It was imposed without giving consideration to the Darfur population’s view.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Will you present new papers for negotiations?
[Hussein] The main points in our issue are authority and wealth in accordance with our real situation, not sheer papers presented here and there. We want to reach an equation that will not sideline us.