Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sudan: Five hundred attend Darfur Stakeholders Conference

UN-AU Mission in Darfur

More than five hundred people began a series of extensive consultations today in Doha, Qatar, to finalize a document which is to form the basis of a peace agreement to be signed by the Sudanese government and opposition movements.

The launch of the All Darfur Stakeholders Conference, led by the AU-UN Joint Chief Mediator, Djibril Bassolé, and the Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Ahmed Bin Abdullah Al-Mahmoud, is the first time that active parties in the Darfur conflict hold talks with members of the civil society and politicians.

The five-day event will bring together high-ranking representatives of the Government of the Sudan, Darfur movements, civil society representatives, internally displaced persons, Sudanese political party leaders and elected Darfuris in state and national assemblies.

Participants from every side will organize into several working groups to meet on such key issues as the return of displaced persons, compensation, justice and reconciliation, power and wealth sharing, and women's rights and their participation in the negotiations and the implementation of a peace deal. Aid workers and members of the international community will attend the proceedings as observers.

UNAMID Joint Special Representative Ibrahim Gambari welcomed the summit and its outcomes, saying that the Mission "stands ready to facilitate the results of this conference and we are anxious to have a permanent ceasefire to the conflict and a comprehensive peace agreement to implement."

"We hope this deal will be the basis to reach a peace agreement in Darfur," said Qatari Minister Al-Mahmoud, whose government, which has pledged millions to help the parties reach a peace agreement and repair the devastation brought on by nearly a decade of conflict. "We believe that the people of Darfur are the key to the solution. Therefore the majority of the points come from the people of Darfur.”

"The conference is not a substitute to negotiations, but the conference will definitely create the base so that the parties can adhere to it, discuss further and sign," said the Joint Chief Mediator.

Alongside the main discussions, meetings will also be held on international support for development projects to aid Darfur’s recovery.