Sudan: Khartoum offers to share power with rebels

Khartoum will offer Darfur’s most powerful rebel group government posts as part of a future peace deal to end conflict in Sudan’s west, according to documents setting out the terms of negotiations.

The documents were the first concrete sign that Khartoum is prepared to share power with its bitter foe in the western region — a development that could complicate preparations for elections in April.

But rebels from the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) played down chances of reaching a final peace pact by March 15, as outlined in a framework deal for peace talks that was to be signed late yesterday in the Qatari capital, Doha.

“We are working to meet the March 15 deadline, but that itself is not a requirement,” chief JEM negotiator Ahmed Tugud said. “We are trying to move forward, at least. It has been a long time since we’ve had a direct dialogue (with the government) ,” he said.

A rebel official said the deadline was unrealistic, and rebels reported fresh violence in Darfur two days after an initial version of the framework deal was signed in Chad. The initial framework included a cease-fire, plans to integrate the JEM into Sudan’s army and a promise to reach a final peace deal by March 15.

Yesterday’s event was billed as the “official signing”. “Peace will prevail in Darfur before the elections,” Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir reportedly said on Monday.

Source: www.businessday.co.za, 20100224

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