Darfur: Sudan woos some rebels —bombs others

Rebel commanders in Darfur are urging Abdel Wahid el-Nur, founder of the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A), to agree to go to peace talks with the Sudanese government slated to open at the end of October in Libya under the auspices of the UN and the African Union. "We want him to come and state his demands at the negotiating table," Jar el Neby, an SLA commander, told Reuters. "His refusal to participate in the negotiations does not serve our cause." Abu Bakr Kadu, a commander with the SLA Unity faction, told Reuters: "We do not agree with Abdel Wahid's position on the negotiations." Last week the vice president of the government of semi-autonomous southern Sudan, Riek Machar, visited Nur in Paris in an attempt to persuade him to join the peace process.

Nur has produced a list of demands he said should be met before he can participate in any negotiations. We want a robust international force to be deployed in Darfur and we want the government to end the genocide and raping," Nur's spokesman, Yehya Bolad, told Reuters.

"We also want Arabs from neighboring countries who the government has settled on our lands to be evicted, we want the Janjaweed to be disarmed and we want the displaced people living in camps to be able to return to their homes." Until this happens, said Bolad, "we are not going to be part of the negotiations in Libya." (Reuters, Sept. 14)

Meanwhile, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) Sept. 12 requested the UN and AU clearly condemn a Sudanese army attack on its positions in Haskanita, Northern Darfur. JEM spokesman Ahmed Hussein Adam accused the AU of remaining silent on Sudanese army aggression against the JEM, "While it condemns our group easily every time we retaliate to Khartoum attacks." The AU and the UN slammed the JEM late last month when a joint JEM-SLA-Unity force attacked a police base in the town of Wad Banda in Kordofan region.

Khartoum signed a joint communiqué with the UN last week that included pledges to cease hostilities in Darfur, prepare for the arrival of a 26,000-strong joint UN-AU peacekeeping mission, and lay the foundations for the peace talks in Libya.

Ahmed said JEM is committed to the peace process, but expressed concerns that it was proceeding undemocratically, protesting that mediators and the Sudanese government met in Arusha, Tanzania, last month without the participation of rebel leaders. "They fixed the date and the place of the peace talks without consultations with any rebel group and we didn’t object that but things can’t continue like that" Ahmed said.

The JEM leader; Khalil Ibrahim, told Radio France Internationale Sept. 11 that government attacks could endanger the peace process and the scheduled Libya talks. (Sudan Tribune, Sept. 12)

See our last posts on Darfur and the struggle in the Sahel.

  1. UN-AU conflict over Darfur force
    The United Nations and African Union are facing off over the composition of the joint peacekeeping force set to be established by Security Council Resolution 1769 of July 31. Not enough countries have contributed to the force, but the AU chairman Alpha Oumar Konare is blocking some of those who have, including Norway, Uruguay and Thailand. US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters, “We understand that the character of the force has to be African but [it’s] a UN-AU force,” with UN member states footing the bill. “It has been understood from the beginning that there will be complementary non-African forces and capabilities available to complement the predominantly African character” of the force,” Khalilzad said. “But I think right now the African Union secretariat needs to move.” (Reuters, Sept. 21)