The Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has defied an international arrest warrant to attend discussions in Qatar on the future of Darfur.
He is wanted by the International Criminal Court over accusations of war crimes and genocide against civilians in Sudan’s war-torn western region.
Qatar, which has been trying to mediate over Darfur, is not a signatory to the ICC charter.
Bashir denies the charges. He has issued a decree paving the way for a referendum on Darfur’s status, a move rejected by rebel groups who suspect his motives.
The Sudanese leader told the conference the aim of the negotiations was to reach an internationally recognised peace agreement.
He called on all parties to take part. But opposition groups fear his planned referendum is a ruse to torpedo the faltering peace talks.
They seek a return to Darfur’s pre-1994 status to give the region more autonomy.
The Justice and Equality Movement is one of two rebel groups present in Qatar. Its spokesman, Jibril Adam Bilal, told euronews it rejected any plan that had not been negotiated.
The movement accuses the Sudanese government of ignoring Doha’s three-year effort to find a solution.
The UN has said any breakthrough in Doha is jeopardised by the absence of another rebel faction.
Hundreds of thousands have been killed and forced to leave their homes in the Darfur conflict.
Our correspondent in Qatar, Maha Barada, said:
“Doha has been exerting big efforts to achieve a final and comprehensive peace agreement in Darfur. With a coming conference to be held next month, hopes are renewed for progress in negotiations between all parties.”