December 21, 2006

Eritrea’s mediation on Darfur seems compromised

Dec 20, 2006 (KHARTOUM) — While Eritrea has indicated tomorrow as a date for the starting of Darfur peace talks in Asmara, no rebel group arrived there. Sudanese government will send a delegation to demonstrate its commitment to the talks.

A delegation from the ruling National Congress Party led by Nafie Ali Nafie, presidential adviser and the party’s secretary for political and organizational affairs, will leave for Eritrea Thursday 21 December for Darfur peace talks.

On the other hand, no rebel delegation will send a delegation to Asmara. It seems that the rebel groups prefer to stay far from such initiative. They all argue that Asmara rejects the participation of the international community in the talks.

Also, according to different rebel sources Asmara is so engaged in its relations with Khartoum, they fear that Eritrea would not be a neutral mediator in the talks.

Despite the high ranking delegation headed by Nafie Ali Nafie Sudanese officials said the talks could be adjourned to the next month. Khartoum says didn’t being informed of the postponement of the negotiations.

Sudan said the negotiating ream for the talks set up by the Government of National Unity would arrive in Asmara as soon as representatives of the holdout groups arrive to Asmara.

Presidential adviser Nafie will hold talks with the ruling People’s Front for Democracy and Justice. His delegation includes members of the negotiation team.

The sole rebel leader who accepted the Eritrean initiative is Ahmed Ibrahim Diraig, the leader of Sudan Federal Democratic Alliance. Diraig, a former governor of Darfur from the Fur ethnic group, is a member of the National Redemption Front. He has no military action on the ground.

The other members of the NRF are not enthusiastic to take part in Asmara talks. The leaders of the Sudan Liberation Movement factions, they all declined the invitation. Abdelwahid al-Nur and Ahmed Abdelshafi may never go back to Asmara.

The United Nations and the African Union and the international community announced in Addis Ababa meeting on 16 November that any future talks on Darfur peace should be organized by the Au and the UN.

Khartoum would be happy to secure Eritrea and to see Darfur rebels relations with Asmara deteriorated. Eritrea has successfully mediated for the end of Eastern Sudan conflict because of the close relations with the former rebel Eastern Front.

Sudan Tribune

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