Sudan president Omar al Bashir visits Chad
The president of Sudan is visiting neighboring Chad to take part in a conference on security in Darfur, hosted by the Chadian government.
“Field Marshal Omar al Bashir, President of the Republic, arrived this afternoon at the Um Jaras airport in Chad to participate in the activities of the Second Um Jaras Forum for Peace, Security and Coexistence in Darfur,” the state news agency reported today.
His arrival was preceded by that of Second Vice President Hassabo Mohammed Abdel Rahman, who led the Sudanese delegation to the opening of the forum, which began Wednesday in Um Jaras, eastern Chad.
Bashir was received at the airport by Chadian President Idriss Deby, according to the Sudan News Agency (SUNA). It is expected that the two leaders will be presented with a document on the conclusions of the three-day forum.
Deby has a potentially criticial role to play in mediating rising conflict in North Darfur. He is a member of the Zaghawa Bidyat clan, which is related to Darfur tribes, and he is wed to the daughter of Musa Hilal, a Darfur militia leader who has recently defected from Sudan’s ruling party and established control over several towns in North Darfur.
During the opening session of the conference on Wednesday, President Deby expressed the hope that the Second Um Jaras Forum will produce tangible results for the achievement of peace and security in the region, saying, “I pledge to do all I can to push the peace process in Darfur.”
In a statement on its website, the Chadian presidency emphasized the significance of the conference, saying, “More than 300 people from different communities of the west Sudanese region have joined this significant meeting for reconciliation.”
Likewise, the Sudanese state media, citing remarks by the justice minister, reported that the forum enjoyed broad support from Sudanese political parties, mentioning the Popular Congress Party and the Umma Party.
Chad and Sudan war had hostile relations from 2003 until 2009, when a rapprochement between the two countries resulted in the end of Chadian support for the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).
JEM, which fights also in South Kordofan and more recently in the conflict in Unity State in South Sudan, has announced its boycott of the Um Jaras conference.
The movement’s spokesman, Jibril Adam Bilal, explained to Radio Dabanga that they see the conference as having a narrow focus related to only one group, noting that JEM will not respect any outcomes of the conference.
The first Um Jaras Forum took place October 2013. It was attended by Deby, Dr Tijani Sese, chairperson of the Darfur Regional Authority, Dr Amin Hassan Omar, the head of the governmental Darfur Peace Follow-up Office, and a number of prominent leaders of the Zaghawa tribe.
File photo: President Idriss Deby of Chad (left) and Omar al Bashir of Sudan (right) (SUNA)
Sudan: Fighting in parts of North Darfur (25 March)