World Bulletin/News Desk
Representatives of the government of Sudan and militant groups in the western Sudanese region of Darfur on Sunday started peace talks in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, amid hopes of achieving cease-fire and a comprehensive political settlement in the region.
"This is the beginning of a long process ending the war in Darfur and other areas of Sudan through a comprehensive peace process," former South African president Thabo Mbeki, who mediates the talks, said at the opening of the talks on Sunday.
"The end of the peace process in Sudan is a durable holistic solution, but here we begin with achieving immediate cease-fire," he added.
Representing Darfur's opposition in the talks are the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and the Sudan Revolutionary Front.
Sudan's government representative Amin Hassan Omer said that the government was committed to the peace process.
He added that the Doha Document, which was produced in Qatar during a conference of Darfur stakeholders in 2011, ought to be the basis for an agreement between the two sides.
Omer said a cease-fire in Darfur ought also to pave the road for a final resolution of the conflict in the western Sudanese region.
"We should not relent in our efforts for peace," he added.
Arko Menawi of SLM, however, accused the government of Khartoum of deliberately marginalizing the people of Darfur and committing brutality – amounting to genocide – against them.
He said his movement "strongly supports a comprehensive peace process."
"Any peace deal must, however, address and redefine the status of Darfur and its role in Sudan," Menawi said.
He called on the international community, the United States, the European Union and the Arab League to be part of the peace process.
He said a UN Security Council resolution that called for disarming the pro-government Janjaweed militia ought to be implemented.
"The International Criminal Court has to step up its efforts to bring to court all those who have committed war crimes," he said.
JEM Chairman, Jibril Ibrahim, for his part said that his movement was ready for peace only if the government of Khartoum was ready to.
"It takes two to tango," Ibrahim said, noting that his movement was ready to work toward achieving the required cease-fire.
"A cessation of hostilities can help create peace, but we are not here only for a cessation of hostilities, but also for a comprehensive settlement," he added.
He asked negotiators to look into the root causes of the conflict, saying that this conflict was exacerbated by what he described as a "militaristic solution imposed by Sudanese government."
Substantive talks between the two sides are expected to begin on Monday. They are expected to last for two days.Last Mod: 23 Kasım 2014, 23:59