As Omar Bashir, Khalil Ibrahim and Idriss Debby troop to Doha to sign the Framework agreement that will open formal peace talks, we should all be happy that at last there is a real chance for peace, right?

Khalil Ibrahim of JEM

Except I seem to remember some few facts here. And some of these come from concerns expressed by leaders of the other rebel movements that refused to join the Doha Peace Process, most notably SLM-Abdel Wahid and SLM-Abdul Shafi. Consider the following:

1. JEM, under it’s leader and former Minister of Education in Darfur Khalil Ibrahim is known to have Islamist origins. Perhaps the mediators in Doha were able to helpthe two gentlemen rediscover the chemistry they had back in the good old NIF days?

2. For a man who led a daring attack on Khartoum in 2007 (I was in the country then), JEM’s Khalil Ibrahim and JEM has made significant strides towards reaching a mutual agreement. A ‘secret deal’ is said to be behind the recent momentum in the Doha talks. Bashir is rumoured to have promised JEM a few goodies like:

  • Power sharing that might see Khalil Ibrahim becoming governor of Darfur
  • Prisoner exchange (and this includes Khalil’s own brother captured in the 2007 Omdurman attack)
  • That JEM forces to be the only military force in Darfur
  • JEM to join the govt of Bashir to eliminate the other rebel movements in Darfur
  • Khartoum govt to compensate JEM for the losses incurred (Read the article from Sudan Tribune)

Omar Bashir of NCP

The above looks like a real good offer, for someone like Khalil Ibrahim and Bashir. The former gets something he has always wanted while the latter gets an enduring headache cleared (at least temporarily) especially in light of the upcoming April elections where the rebel movements had called for a boycott.

Anyway, this could just be a conspiracy theory.

But something just doesn’t add up. You can not proceed without the other major rebel group, SLM-AW. And locking out SLM-RF doesn’t help either.

I see another Abuja Agreement in the making. If you recall, this particular process gave us the Darfur Peace Agreement which collapsed even before the ink had dried on the paper. The main reason? Leaving out some groups in the process and most notably, Abdel Waheed and his SLM.

I have never been convinced that Scott Gration is going about his job with the required wisdom, which is why allegations of his tacit approval of this exclusionist process is worrying, very worrying!