Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Darfur: Dramatic disconnect between deals being brokered in Doha and reality on the ground

Source: Enough Project at the Center for American Progress - Against the backdrop of continued violence in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur, negotiations to bring peace to this western region of Sudan are currently underway in the Qatari city of Doha.

Since Enough's last update on the peace talks, there have been numerous developments: Having signed a preliminary deal in mid-February that paved the way for direct talks, the Justice and Equality Movement, the most militarily significant rebel force in Darfur, has tried to hammer out a deal with the Government of Sudan over power and wealth sharing, JEM positions inside Darfur, and the future of JEM as a political party. A new coalition of 11 rebel groups calling itself the Liberation and Justice Movement headed by civil society leader Tijani Seise has signed a ceasefire agreement with the government and is discussing the merits of incorporating other rebel groups into its ranks as preparations for direct negotiations with the government begin. The Roadmap group, comprised of three rebel factions, has signaled the possibility that it might join forces with JEM at the negotiating table, though this partnership is far from certain.

While the talks may appear positive on the surface, there are numerous aspects of the Doha process that are cause for significant concern. First and foremost, there is tangible evidence, such as the existence of the army offensive in Jebel Marra, that Sudan's ruling National Congress Party, or NCP, continues to negotiate in bad faith. While the government has a strong interest in appearing to be conciliatory in Darfur, not least because it hopes to legitimize itself in time for the elections which are now just days away, there is little to suggest it has changed how it is doing business on the ground. Furthermore, the Doha negotiations have thus far been dominated by tensions within and among rebel groups, fragile and shifting allegiances, and a lack of transparency, as various international actors continue to apply pressure both publicly, often in the form of cash pledges, and behind the scenes.

As close monitoring of the process over the past month reveals, there is a dramatic disconnect between the deals being brokered in Doha and the reality on the ground in Darfur. The following is an update capturing what we are hearing from various sources in Doha, recognizing that the situation remains highly fluid.

Download the full report from Enough Project at the Center for American Progress

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