NAIROBI – The IGAD Quartet mediation team in the Sudan conflict chaired by Kenyan President William Ruto has rejected invitation to the Jeddah initiative led by the United States and Saudi Arabia.
The Heads of State and Government of the IGAD Quartet Group of Countries meeting in Nairobi on the sidelines of the Africa Climate Summit reiterated its call for a structured all-inclusive approach towards peace talks anchored in the IGAD-AU-led initiative.
Noting consultations with various stakeholders and the invitation for IGAD to participate in the Jeddah process, the IGAD Group called for the consolidation of all peace initiatives for Sudan under a framework that “comprehensively addresses the conflict, humanitarian access and long-term political dialogue to deliver comprehensive and lasting peace”.
“The members of the IGAD Quartet Group of countries recommend that in the spirit of “African Solutions to African Problems” IGAD and the AU combine their efforts with the countries neighbouring the Sudan and further calls upon the international actors to support a single, all-inclusive IGAD-AU led platform,” the communique released on Wednesday said.
Further, the group mandated IGAD and the African Union to accelerate the consultations to map the agenda, venue and identify participants and other relevant matters in support of a political dialogue that clearly defines a Sudanese-owned and Sudanese-led political process.
In May, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the purpose of the Jeddah talks was to bring the warring parties in Sudan to sign a humanitarian truce, followed by talks on a permanent ceasefire and civilian-led government.
However, the talks failed to proceed after several breakdowns, with the US and Saudi Arabia failing to successfully negotiate the warring parties’ adherence to the Jeddah Declaration of Commitment to Protect the Civilians of Sudan.
Despite the Jeddah talks initially producing the declaration of commitments to protecting civilians and two short-term ceasefire deals that were repeatedly violated, Sudanese Armed Forces on May 31 suspended its participation, accusing the Rapid Support Forces of a lack of commitment in implementing any terms of the agreement and a continuous violation of the ceasefire.
“The General Command of the Armed Forces has decided to suspend the current talks in Jeddah due to the rebel militia’s lack of commitment to the implementation any of the terms of the agreement and its continuous violation of the ceasefire,” according to the statement posted on Sudan News Agency website.
Consequently, on June 1, the US and Saudi Arabia announced the suspension of Sudan peace talks, citing “repeated serious violations” of the short-term ceasefire agreement by the warring parties.
In the joint statement, Washington and Riyadh criticised the SAF and the RSF for their violations of the ceasefire, blocking the delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians.
“Once the parties make clear by their actions that they are serious about complying with the ceasefire, the facilitators are prepared to resume the suspended discussions to find a negotiated solution to this conflict,” they said.
On Wednesday, President Ruto separately met US special envoy for the Horn of Africa Michael Hammer and “discussed issues of mutual interest including the security in the Horn of Africa”. Hammer also met IGAD boss Dr Workneh Gebeyehu and US Ambassador to Sudan John Godfrey.
The Quartet Group warned that the conflict in Sudan is becoming increasingly complex and risks taking on a regional dimension, with the entry and participation of other armed movements.
In addition, they noted, is the rapid proliferation of small arms and light weapons would pose severe security, humanitarian, and political risks for Sudan and the broader region.
It also decried the deterioration of the humanitarian situation and increasing population displacement coupled with severe food scarcity and in this regard, and committed to mobilise $1 million from each IGAD member state for humanitarian assistance and to support the peace process.
On July 16, President Ruto, who has been rejected by SAF as the lead mediator, remained adamant on leading the AU-backed IGAD Quartet.
In a phone call with Transitional Sovereign Council of Sudan Chairman Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Ruto said the IGAD and Jeddah processes must work together to facilitate the realisation of a permanent ceasefire in Sudan.
“They must also push for the free movement of humanitarian assistance, the protection of refugees and the reactivation of the Political Process,”Ruto said.
However, on August 29, Al-Burhan appeared to endorse the Egypt-led peace process following talks with Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in the coastal town of El Alamein.
“The Chairman of Sudan’s Sovereign Council welcomed this [Egypt’s] track, the first summit of which was held recently in Egypt,” a statement released by the Egyptian Presidency said, further noting that the leaders discussed efforts to end the conflict in Sudan in a way that preserves “the sovereignty, integrity of Sudanese state”.
They also discussed ways of cooperation and coordination to support the humanitarian aid and relief.
This was Burhan’s first international travel since the conflict broke out with the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces on April 15.
The Nairobi meeting was attended by presidents Ruto, Ismaïl Omar Guelleh (Djibouti and IGAD Chairperson) and Salva Kiir (South Sudan and IGAD Deputy Chairperson), IGAD Executive Secretary Workneh and AU Commission chairperson Moussa Faki.
Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was represented by Defence Minister Dr Abreham Belay.
“Our session of the Sudan IGAD Quartet summit in Nairobi this afternoon was constructive, solution-oriented and aimed at resolving the current crisis in the Republic of Sudan as a matter of utmost urgency. Looking forward to further collaboration with All stakeholders &resilient people of Sudan to foster sustainable peace,” Dr Workneh said.