A Sudan government-sponsored initiative on Darfur will urge a ceasefire in the ravaged region and call on both sides to prepare for talks, according to draft recommendations seen by AFP on Tuesday.
The final recommendations of the so-called people's initiative, which was boycotted by rebel groups fighting the government, are expected to lay a foundation for a possible peace conference in Qatar by the end of 2008.
Sudan's government still has to adopt the recommendations, which are the latest in a series of proposed ceasefires and peace plans announced during more than five years of fighting in
Sudan's remote west.
But they are likely to become government policy because the Sudan People's Forum, which initiated the draft - was created by Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. His ruling National Congress Party has already agreed to be bound by the forum's recommendations.
Bashir set up the forum weeks after the International Criminal Court prosecutor called for him to be tried for war crimes in Darfur, where international experts say ethnic and political conflict has left 200,000 dead and 2.5 million homeless since 2003. ICC judges are not expected to make a decision on whether to indict Bashir before January.
The accusations against Bashir include war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide and many observers saw the new body as part of a diplomatic push to deflect the prosecutor's move and to show Sudan could find its own solution to the conflict.
"The recommendation is to launch a unilateral ceasefire and call on all the Darfur movements to cease hostilities," said the report.
It also recommends that a vice president be appointed for all Darfur and calls on north and south Sudan to amend the 2005 peace agreement.
The forum also called on the government to release Darfuris arrested on political charges and asked the judiciary to review cases of those who have been accused or sentenced on crimes related to Darfur.
Sudan is pressing a diplomatic offensive to persuade the U.N. Security Council to delay possible proceedings against Bashir, who could face an international arrest warrant for alleged war crimes in Darfur.
Convincing the international community that Sudan is serious about promoting peace in Darfur, where the government has been accused of brutally repressing a nearly six-year insurgency, has been key to the people's initiative.
Sixty-seven pages of draft recommendations seen by an AFP reporter focused on the need to stop hostilities and declare a ceasefire, although one senior official emphasized that the document was still being edited.
"The people's initiative forum calls upon the government to cease fire and also calls upon Darfur rebel groups to cease fire so as to reform the situation for dialogue," said the document.
The draft recommendations are expected to be finalized and formally ratified at a conference chaired by Bashir in Khartoum on Wednesday.
Numerous initiatives have tried and failed to bring peace to Sudan's western region of Darfur, where rebels rose up against Khartoum in 2003, complaining of marginalization.