After nearly seven years of fighting, the displacement of three million people, and multiple failed attempts to negotiate peace, talks are ongoing to end the conflict in Darfur. Since mid-February, the joint African Union/U.N. mediation team has been working in Doha, Qatar with representatives of the Government of Sudan and more than 10 Darfur rebel groups to negotiate a solution. Diplomats from around the world have descended on Doha to support the process. The host government, in an effort to grease the wheels, publicly pledged $2 billion dollars for reconstruction efforts in Darfur.
From reports in the mainstream media and declarations by the U.S. and other officials, you would be forgiven for thinking that the process is moving along relatively smoothly. Two agreements have been signed, and, if you believe the reports, the only remaining hurdle is to overcome the contentious relations between various rebel factions. Yet a closer look reveals a flawed process, the impacts of which have not yet been felt where they matter the most: the ground in Darfur.
An initial agreement between the government and the Justice and Equality Movement, or JEM, is not a formal truce but an agreement to have further talks. Hailed as a major breakthrough by diplomats who had no hand in the negotiations, the JEM deal was quickly in trouble. In the days leading up to and following the signing ceremony in Doha, fighting reportedly rocked the JEM-controlled area of Jebel Moon. However, the fresh violence was largely overlooked as reports focused on the peace talks.
The second agreement, signed yesterday between the government and a new coalition of rebel groups called the Liberation and Justice Movement, or LJM, is a step forward. However, the LJM’s members are not major political or military players in Darfur and rumors of backroom deal-making could undermine any formal deal and its implementation.
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This post originally appeared on Change.org’s Human Rights blog.
Photo: Sudan Liberation Army rebels in South Darfur (IRIN)