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Sudan Rebels Dismiss Government Darfur Development Plans as ‘Mere’ Stunt

  • Peter Clottey

A 2009 file photo of Sudanese rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) leader Khalil Ibrahim during a Darfur peace meeting in Doha, Qatar

A 2009 file photo of Sudanese rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) leader Khalil Ibrahim during a Darfur peace meeting in Doha, Qatar

The spokesman for the Darfur-based Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) has dismissed as a ‘mere’ publicity stunt a government plan to establish development and service projects worth $1.9 billion in the restive Darfur region.

Ahmed Hussein Adam said President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s government has consistently demonstrated that it is not interested in resolving the ongoing conflict in Darfur.

“This is not a serious initiative from the side of the regime because we are not (at) the process of peace-building stage because, right now, there is a conflict going on there. Instead of doing this kind of thing, let them stop the violation against the IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camps. Let them stop the atrocities in the Kelma camps. Let them do that,” he said.

Sudan’s Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha reportedly chaired an economic meeting Monday that discussed development projects in the Darfur. According to the government, it has developed a new strategy aimed at resolving the crisis.

But, JEM’s spokesman Adam said the development project is yet another attempt by the administration to divert attention from the atrocities being committed in Darfur.

“They are not serious about the development of Darfur. If they are serious about the development of Darfur, let them have the political determination to achieve peace first and then we can go together to the state of peace building efforts,” Adam said.

Local media quoted Ali Mahmoud, Sudan’s Minister for Finance and National Economy as saying the (development) “projects will contribute to overcoming the service and development problem which was considered an essential part in causing the rebellion in Darfur.”

Mahmoud also said that the government development project will include, among other things, the completion of the Western Salvation Highway, establishment of an electric carrying line, the establishment of water supply networks and health centers, as well as the rehabilitation of schools.

But, JEM’s spokesman Adam dismissed the proposed development project saying President Bashir made similar promises which he said were never kept.

“As we speak, they are carrying out their strategy of imposing security and military solution on Darfur. That is what they have been doing. They have not been talking about peace and they are not serious about developments (in Darfur) right now,” Adam said.

Adam further accused the government of trying to dismantle the IDP camps, which he said is against international humanitarian laws. It is a charge the government denies saying it is committed to resolving the ongoing crisis in Darfur.