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Sudanese Rebels Dismiss President's Cease-Fire Call


Rebels in Sudan's war-torn Darfur region have dismissed a call for a cease-fire by President Omar al-Bashir.

Members of one of the main rebel groups, the Justice and Equality Movement, said Wednesday that President Bashir cannot be trusted and that when he calls for a truce, it means he is preparing a new offensive.

They also said they would only agree to a cease-fire within an overall framework for peace.

The exiled leader of another rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Movement, Abdulwahid Elnur, told the Associated Press that rebels cannot accept a cease-fire until pro-government militias are disarmed.

Mr. Bashir Wednesday pledged an "immediate campaign" to disarm such militia. He said the cease-fire would also be immediate, but would depend on an effective monitoring system that all sides observed.

President Bashir has announced several cease-fires during the nearly six-year Darfur conflict, all of which failed.

His latest declaration earlier Wednesday follows peace recommendations made by a so-called people's forum, which was boycotted by Darfur's rebel groups. The recommendations also called for the release of Darfur political prisoners, but President Bashir did not mention this.

Mr. Bashir set up the forum a few weeks after the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor called for him to be tried for war crimes in Darfur.

The prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, accuses Mr. Bashir of masterminding a campaign of deportation, rape and murder in the western Darfur region. President Bashir says he is the victim of an international conspiracy, and Sudan has refused to cooperate with the court.

Human rights activists say the conflict, involving rebels, government forces and pro-government militias, has killed more than 200,000 people and driven more than 2.5 million from their homes. Sudan's government says these numbers are exaggerated, and puts the death toll at about 10,000.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.



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