Leaders of Sudan and Qatar will on Wednesday take party in a ceremony in the troubled Darfur region of Sudan to finalise a contested peace deal brokered by the Emir of Qatar to end more than 13 years of war that has killed thousands and driven millions out of their home.
Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Sudanese president Omar Hassan Al Bashir arrived in El Fasher, the capital of Darfur. Chadian president Idriss Deby is also at the event – as it has been a major player in the conflict there.
Rwanda has maintained 6,163 troops in the war-torn region for years as part of the 19,000 UN peacekeeping forces. Several Rwandans have been killed from repeated attacks by warring sides in the conflict that has pitted Khartoum against local tribes which want more autonomy.
Qatar has hosted successive rounds of peace talks between the Arab-dominated Khartoum and the ethnic minority rebels who took up arms in 2003.
Talks in the Qatari capital Doha in 2011 led to a peace deal with one small rebel faction — the Liberation and Justice Movement (JEM) — and Wednesday’s ceremony is to mark its implementation.
The Qatari Emir is in Darfur today for what has been described as “celebration of completing the implementation of the Doha Document for Peace,” according to statement from the Emir’s office.
Qatar has put nearly $10m in some 20 projects to support Darfur reconstruction.
However, other tribal rebel groups which have not signed on to the Qatar peace process are vowing not to respect the arrangements which JEM rebel group endorsed. There are also parallel talks being conducted by the African Union.
Two rebel groups — JEM and the Sudan Liberation Army faction headed by Minni Minnawi — have signed an African Union roadmap for a ceasefire but talks on its implementation broke down last month.
A third rebel group — the SLA faction headed by Abdelwahid Nur — has not signed the roadmap.
The JEM announced on Wednesday that it would release all prisoners it had captured during fighting with government forces.
“The movement will coordinate their transfer to Khartoum,” it said, without giving any explanation of the timing of its announcement, according to AFP news agency.