A Sudanese official launched a strong attack on some African leaders and on the African Peace and Security Council’s (APSC) resolution to extend the mandate of the African Union’s (AU) forces in Darfur for another six months before handing the mission over to UN forces. However, despite this, the official expected the “peace agreement in Darfur to be signed within weeks.”
Majdhub al-Khalifah, the head of the Sudanese Government’s delegation for the Darfur negotiations in Abuja, Nigeria, said some African leaders “were bought” to pass the West’s agendas and added, “These leaders yield to Western pressures to bring colonialism back to Africa.” He pointed out that this is done by using the African leaders themselves and taming others to restore the “masters in the West and slaves in Africa” equation. He said some African leaders are working against Africa from within the UN Security Council and “are stabbing their countries in the back. They take your share there and sell it.”
According to Al-Khalifah, the APSC resolution was issued after pressure was exerted on the African leaders. He stated that the resolution “is a summary of the Western pressures to hand the forces over to the United Nations on one side and the Sudanese pressures against removing the mission from the AU on the other side.” He added that the persistence to hand over the mission of monitoring the ceasefire in Darfur to the United Nations has had a negative impact on the Abuja negotiations and “the agreement on sharing the resources between the two sides would have been signed had it not been for the pressures exerted in that direction.”
Yet Al-Khalifah appeared optimistic about the future of the negotiations and said they have reached the final stages and that agreement on most issues has been reached, adding: “There are pending issues such as Darfur’s representation in the presidency and the structure of rule in Darfur.”
He ruled out any change or upgrading of the government’s negotiation delegation in Abuja and said “the government is negotiating within its capacity as a government of national unity and according to a total strategy and vision. It is irrelevant who the members of delegation are because this personifies the issue.” He praised the Popular Movement’s contribution to the Abuja negotiations and pointed out that the government uses the Sudanese peace agreement, the constitution, and the Al-Fashir’s all-embracing conference as the terms of reference within the negotiation process. He is expecting the peace agreement between the two sides to be signed within weeks.
Al Khalifah referred to Sudanese Vice President Ali Othman Mohammad Taha’s rare meeting with Mani Arkoi, the leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement in Darfur, and Dr. Khalil Ibrahim, leader of the Justice and Equality Movement, in Libya under the sponsorship of the Libyan president Muammar Qaddafi. Al-Khalifah said the meeting was not prearranged but was held as Taha made a stopover on his way back from Brussels to Sudan. He added that the meeting was held within the framework of the Libyan efforts to resolve the Darfur problem.
At another press conference held at the presidential palace, Sudanese Vice President Ali Othman Taha stressed that intensification of the Abuja negotiations would be the main priority in the forthcoming stage, adding that this was agreed on with EU and American officials in Brussels. He stated that all the parties would gather in Abuja and underlined the need for his government to mobilize “all the resources, expertise, and abilities” for the sake of the political solution to the satisfaction of the Sudanese people. According to Taha, “the Sudanese peace agreement is not the only point of reference for the peace process in Darfur but is important so that its clauses are not breached in Abuja.”
After mentioning that the Sudanese cabinet welcomed the positive points in the APSC resolution, Taha criticized some clauses severely saying, “Some of them are surprising and it seems we do not want to use any other words.” He explained that the resolution demanded that the Sudanese people should not protest and “this goes beyond the boundaries of propriety.” He added, “Neither the APSC nor any other party in the world can prevent the Sudanese people from expressing their feelings” adding, “They do not need anyone to teach them how to defend their rights.” He noted that the government expressed reservation over any clause in the resolution referring to the transfer of the AU forces in Darfur to the UN forces, as the AU does not have this right and is a matter of Sudanese sovereignty.
Yet Taha said the resolution tried to respond to the aspirations and concerns of all Sudanese and non-Sudanese parties and pointed out that the resolution was an expression of the art of that which is possible that the AU follows to respond to all aspirations and concerns. He added, “We should not be utopians.”