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Khartoum and armed groups arrive at a road map for peace in Darfur

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — The Sudanese government and nine armed movements reached a road map on Saturday to end the bloody conflict that has ravaged Darfur for 16 years, according to an AFP correspondent.

The road map includes various issues that the parties will have to discuss during the last round of negotiations in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

“We believe it is an important step,” Ahmed Mohamed told France Press, the representative of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front, which includes nine armed movements involved in talks with the Sudanese government.

He added that “this step definitely contributes to achieving a lasting peace in Darfur, and also allows the completion of the transitional path in Sudan without clashes and obstacles.”

Among the items agreed upon are the roots of the conflict in Darfur, the return of refugees and displaced persons, power-sharing and the integration of the armed forces into the national army. The paper also states that the Sudanese government will consider property issues, similar to those destroyed during the conflict.

Two weeks ago, Khartoum has been discussing the Darfur conflict with several armed groups, in meetings hosted by the capital of South Sudan and within the framework of efforts aimed at ending the conflicts in Darfur (West), Blue Nile (Central) and Kordofan (Central).

The groups participating in the negotiations had fought bloody disputes with the regime of former President Omar al-Bashir, in opposition to the policies of marginalization. However, the transitional government headed by Abdullah Hamduk has made peace in these areas one of its priorities.

Clashes erupted in Darfur in 2003 when ethnic minorities took up arms against President Bashir’s government, accusing him of marginalizing it.

Human rights organizations report that Khartoum targeted ethnic groups as they supported the rebellion, and that it practiced a policy of scorched land through killing, looting, rape and burning villages.

Al-Bashir was arrested following his ouster on charges of corruption, and he is awaiting trial on other charges. The International Criminal Court in The Hague had issued an arrest warrant for his role in the conflict, which has killed 300,000 people and displaced 2.5 million, according to the United Nations.

“We failed to reach a lasting peace for Darfur only because the previous government was not ready to take strategic decisions in order to end the conflict,” said Ahmed, who was involved in previous talks.

On the other hand, Lt. Gen. Shams El Din Kabashi, representative of the Sudanese authorities in the negotiations, stressed that the new regime in Khartoum wants peace.

He said, “We are determined to end all Darfur crises” and to establish peace and stability “not only in Darfur, but in all regions of the country.”

Peace negotiations began in August, and mediators want to reach a final agreement by next February.

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