In yet another blow to the Darfur peace talks in Doha, Sudan’s Minister of Justice, Abdel Basit Sabderat, has requested Interpol’s assistance in apprehending Khalil Ibrahim, leader of Darfur’s Justice and Equality Movement, or JEM. The justice minister called for Ibrahim to stand trial for the May 2008 assault on the Omdurman neighborhood of Khartoum, Reuters reported today. “The relevant authorities of Interpol have been requested to arrest [Ibrahim] wherever he is so that he may face trial … and be handed over to the Sudanese authorities," Minister Sabderat told the Sudan Media Center. Ibrahim, who is currently traveling in Egypt, has been accused of master-minding the assault which resulted in the deaths of more than 220 people and the capture of numerous rebels.
Until recently, the Sudanese government was negotiating with Ibrahim and his JEM associates in Doha as part of the most recent round of talks to bring peace to Darfur. Today’s development comes on the heels of a recent announcement by JEM that it would freeze its participation in the peace talks with Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party, or NCP, citing the NCP’s continued violations of the ceasefire agreement that the parties signed in February. Although the talks had reached a stalemate following this initial ceasefire agreement, many had maintained hope that they would return to the table in mid-May, upon completion of the Sudan’s nationwide elections.
The NCP’s most recent move to pursue Ibrahim’s arrest, however, likely signals a definitive end to the talks between the parties in Doha. Although the conglomeration of rebel groups known as the Liberty and Justice Movement, or LJM, appears to remain committed to the peace process, JEM represents the majority of the firepower in Darfur and is thus crucial to the sustainability of any peace agreement for the region.
Photo: JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim, center with blue tie, at peace talks in Doha (AP)