New rebel alliance undermines Darfur peace effort

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John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, which closely monitors developments in Sudan, said the rebel alliance is focused on a national peace process instead of just one for Darfur.

“War is a distant second option, behind a comprehensive peace deal,” he said. “The focus must be on a comprehensive deal, as the regions fighting the center have similar agendas for change.”

In a letter to President Obama this week, a group of 62 U.S. lawmakers, including the four co-chairmen of the Congressional Sudan Caucus, described the administration’s Sudan policy as flawed. They said the current approach of addressing Sudan’s conflicts through “individual mediation processes - effectively stove-piping each conflict - is not working.”

The lawmakers recommended bringing all parties together in one process.

Mr. el-Sissi was in Washington last week to participate in a two-day meeting with Darfuri rebel leaders that sought to bridge the gap between the groups.[NOTE]Following the meeting, the State Department called on the Sudanese government to be “open and flexible to negotiations with the armed movements.”

Emad Altohamy, the top Sudanese diplomat in Washington, said his government has never refused to negotiate with any rebel factions.

“The government’s position has been clear and consistent from the outset. It welcomes any parties interested in genuinely pursuing peace,” he said.

He was confident that the peace process will be a success in part because it is supported by the United Nations, the United States and the international community.

But Mr. Prendergast said the deal signed in Doha was “dead on arrival.”

“Very few Darfuris support the Doha agreement. It has no legs. The effort was misguided,” he said.

Mr. el-Sissi, who recently spent a week in Darfur after being away for 21 years, disagreed. He said Darfuris are hungry for peace.

“All you hear in Darfur is ‘peace, peace, peace,’” he said.

The State Department said the United States remains “deeply concerned” about the situation in Darfur, where it noted that serious humanitarian and human rights crises continue to unfold.
The Darfur Peace and Accountability Act requires the U.S. president to certify improvement in the situation in Darfur before Sudan is taken off the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Earlier this month, the Obama administration extended sanctions on Sudan, saying it had not seen sufficient improvement in Darfur.

Mr. el-Sissi said the Obama administration must lift the sanctions, which he said are hurting the Sudanese people instead of their government.

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About the Author
Ashish Kumar Sen

Ashish Kumar Sen

Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.

Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.

 

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