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Darfur-Darfur Dialogue Will Not be Held Hostage by Hostile Armed Factions", Says Dr. Omar Adam
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"Darfur-Darfur Dialogue Will Not be Held Hostage by Hostile Armed Factions", Says Dr. Omar Adam
 
By:   Al Sammani Awadallah
 Implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement signed in May 2006 has been faltering at some stage but has steadily picked up pace since the announcement of the Darfur Transitional Authority and ironing out major details of power and wealth sharing and security arrangements. With the preparatory committee already formed, efforts are now underway to hold the Darfur-Darfur dialogue. Member of both the government delegation to the Abuja talks and group in charge of assessing development requirements, DPA implementation chamber rapporteur, Dr. Omar Adam Rahma gives an informative interview on the obstacle to DPA implementation and efforts made to overcome these issues.
 
Q: Dr. Omar, lets talk about progress on implementation of the DPA and whether what has been achieved can be considered encouraging to those parties which have not yet joined the peace process?    
 
A:   First we ask the assistance of Almighty God in bringing this agreement to its desired conclusion and we hope that the coming phase will proceed at a steadier and quicker pace. The last few days have witnessed major developments with regard to power sharing through various political appointments which include a state minister at the ministerial council, a former minister and a state ( Khartoum) minister who is satisfactorily carrying out his duties. It is also commonly known that 12 members from various movements have joined the national assembly as stipulated by the agreement in addition to several state level ministerial appointments. The highly competent Dr. Ibrahim Madibu has been appointed head of the resettlement and rehabilitation committee and should carry out his duties to the satisfaction of Darfurians and all Sudanese alike. A land Commissioner and head of the redevelopment and reconstruction fund have also been appointed to affect redevelopment over the coming ten years as stated within the agreement. What I would also like to point out is that many positive aspects particularly in the interrelations between movements on a level not seen before and this is vital for accelerating the peace process. What remains then is development and restoration of social ties and relations to end the state of hostility and divisiveness both through Darfurian-Darfurian dialogue and implementation of wealth sharing clauses within the DPA. The devil is in the details as they say but I'm truly optimistic that the coming phase will witness major developments with regard to achieving stability and security and re-patching the social fabric and fulfillment of the aspirations of Darfuris.
 
Q: Dr. Omar, we see some delay in the implementation of vital security arrangements, what is the fate of the committees which have been formed bring about integration of the different movements?
 
A: I agree that there is some delay with regard to implementation of security arrangements agreements which is the true measure of security as felt by the people of Darfur. It is unfortunate that not much has been done in this regard. But in all fairness, if we refer to the Abuja agreement we see that the time frame for implementation of security arrangement is substantially delayed and I think that if these arrangements are carried out in the coming phase it will be substantially ahead of the of the time frame included in the agreement. Preparations for the integration process have been carried out early on and a detailed document was prepared and submitted to the security arrangement committee. Further details relating to locations, lists and other preparations remain to be executed on the parts of the movements to be able to bring about security through joint integrated forces. This process is vital for encouraging resettlement and voluntary return and the coming phase will witness progress on these issues similar to that achieved with regard to power sharing.
 
Q: Again Dr. Omar, we view the issue of Darfurian-Darfurian dialogue as being closely connected to the issue of security. Will the Darfur-Darfur dialogue conference be postponed in view of the delay in implementation of security arrangements?
 
A: I would like to affirm that Darfur-Darfur dialogue cannot take place simultaneously with what has come to be termed (the crackling of gunfire). This dialogue requires a minimum set of circumstances the least of which is an end to hostilities. We seek to hold this dialogue in a healthy environment failing which the dialogue itself can be used as a tool to put an end to the fighting. I would like to draw attention to the fact that the issue of fighting is not totally within our control, there are certain aspects that are largely dependent on the armed factions. This does not mean that we will not wait but of course we will not allow fighting factions without a well-defined agenda to hold the dialogue hostage.  
 
Q: Does this mean then that the dialogue will be held irrespective of continued fighting?
 
A: Again it does not that we will not wait but we cannot postpone the dialogue indefinitely because of factions without a concrete agenda. It should be noted that there are some elements who seek destabilization. I do not want to say that all those taking up arms will have their finger on the trigger to the very last moment but the dialogue may also be perceived as a means of addressing the grievances which led to hostilities in the first place. Darfurian-Darfurian dialogue is a process that must start from the grassroots. We must start with local communities and work our way up the state level. We will spare neither efforts nor time and will convene with the dialogue whenever circumstances are conducive. The process should be followed by reconciliatory and informatory campaigns to build up on what has been achieved at the grassroots level.
 
 
Q: This leads us to the political process sponsored by the United Nations and African Union. What has been achieved in that regard?
 
A: Great emphasis has been placed on the dialogue process since the very signing of the agreement as the best means of thoroughly addressing all issues which naturally cannot all be done through an agreement. Such issues include tribal reconciliation, the relationship between farmers and grazers, the relationship between citizens and the various government organs particularly the security aspects. The state cannot secure every square inch of the country without some degree of cooperation on the part of society. When all those concerned sit down and talk freely through a transparent conference. In my estimation agreements solve about 15 to 20% of issues and the remaining 80% can only be solved through this type of grassroots meeting. The issue of equitable representation on the federal and state levels and civil service has been addressed by the agreement. The issue of education was addressed by providing Darfurian students with free education in all government universities for a period of 5 years as well as requiring at least a 50% quota of indigenous Darfurians in all Darfur universities. There are varying opinions with regard to nature of the Darfurian problems; whether it is strictly social, political, and economic or a combination of each of these factors. In my opinion, the problem is intricately tied to Darfurian geography, demographic makeup and resource distribution. This then calls for dialogue with open minds and penetrating thought. We need further dialogue that takes into consideration and makes use of what has been achieved through the 26 month of negotiations which led to the Abuja peace agreement. The Abugasim group discussed and resolved the issue of reparations in the Tripoli meeting as an instance of successfully resolving issue outside the DPA. Abuja opponents should unify their agenda as opposed to a new declaration of principles.
 
Q: Is it to be understood then that Abuja opponents do not have a definite agenda for discussion and resolution?
 
A: Yes. They lack a well defined agenda and I see no justification for a new declaration of principles because the Darfur issue is precisely that which we discussed 3 years ago when a declaration of principles was made which described by all as superior to that of Naivasha and led to a peace agreement with greater specificity and clarity by making use of the experience gained through the CPA. It does not make sense to (reinvent the wheel) with a new declaration of principles Those who see a deficiency within the DPA should point it out but it is completely irrational to call for a new declaration of principles particularly when those who are calling for it are the same parties who pushed for the earlier 15/7/2005 declaration.
 
 
Q: Dr. Omar, let me ask you about the arrangements that have been put in place to receive refugees returning form neighbouring countries both on the part of the government or the transitional Darfur authority?       
 
A: As a matter of fact Ibrahim Madibu was appointed yesterday as head of the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Committee which is the committee concerned with the with all the arrangements involved with resettlement. There was work done in the past in this regard prior to the DPA as it's the State's responsibility to guarantee the wellbeing of its citizens. Now it is a shared responsibility between the State, the committee and the international community. A lot of communities have shown interesting in returning and those people should be assisted through a joint effort to provide them with basic necessities such as water, educational and health facilities, shelter and transportation.
 
Q: Do you expect the international community to live it to its pledge to assist with this process taking into consideration its failure to deliver thus far on the promises made in Naivasha?
 
A: As a member of the Joint Assessment Mission I can testify to the fact that the international community provided major assistance with regard to the assessment of development needs in Darfur which we insisted on carrying out in spite of the security situation. Work is now underway to prepare the final document to be presented to the donors' conference in the Netherlands. The question now arises as to why a specific date has not yet been set for the conference. In my estimation I see no justification for the delay especially that the final document is now being prepared having completed assessment of needs in various aspects including agriculture, industry and basic infrastructure. Arguing that lack of security in Darfur is the reason for postponing the donor conference is rather unconvincing. Therefore we cannot say that the international community has not provided assistance or will provide only meager assistance although we did have a disappointing experience with Naivasha. We hope that the international community will in fact make a reasonable contribution in helping to implement the development projects needed in Darfur.
Sudanvisiondaily.com
 
 
Captions:
 
* Our experience with the international community has been largely disappointing
* Instability in Darfur does not justify postponement of The Hague Conference
* The international community should contribute in helping to implement the development projects in Darfur          

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