News / Africa

Darfur Peace Talks Threatened; Clashes Continue

Sudan's JEM warns it may pull out of negotiations if government pursues parallel agreement with newly-formed rebel umbrella group; SLM faction under attack

Darfur Peace Talks Threatened; Clashes Continue
Darfur Peace Talks Threatened; Clashes Continue
Alan Boswell

The Sudanese army has reportedly stepped up military operations against a major Darfur rebel faction which has refused to enter into the current peace talks. Meanwhile, the other main rebel group, which recently signed a ceasefire agreement with the government, is threatening to pull out of talks if Khartoum carries on parallel negotiations with a newly-formed umbrella group of rebel factions.

The Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) faction still aligned to the founder of the Darfur rebel group, Abdel Wahid al-Nur, has reported days of attacks from the Sudanese armed forces in its stronghold area around the mountainous Jebel Marra area.

The Sudanese army has officially denied the participation in the clashes, which reportedly have been preceded by aerial bombardment on the rebel lines. But the U.S. issued a statement Tuesday condemning the "reports" of violence between Khartoum and the SLM faction, saying that the hostilities are viewed as "undermining the spirit of the peace process."

When contacted on Wednesday by VOA, the spokesperson for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Sudan, Sam Hendricks, said that news from the ground indicates Sudanese forces have been involved in the violence, though he said his office lacked the information to comment any further.

"It's been confirmed in our reports that there were clashes between government forces and rebel groups. And where we don't have reliable information, there is really nothing that we can say at this stage," Hendricks said.

More than 10,000 are thought to be displaced in the weeks of fighting, but the United Nations says the ongoing insecurity is preventing humanitarian aid from reaching much of the affected civilian populations.

Analysts suspect that Khartoum is trying to exert pressure on the rebel group's leader, Abdel Wahid, to enter into peace negotiations. The exiled rebel leader, who is residing in Paris but considered to still maintain significant support on the ground, has repeatedly demanded a cessation of fighting before talks can begin.

When Darfuris took arms in 2003 against the Khartoum regime of Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the movement was comprised of two distinct groups: the Sudan Liberation Movement, led chiefly by Abdel Wahid, and the Justice and Equality Movement group (JEM), led by former government official Khalil Ibrahim.

Last week, Ibrahim's JEM signed a truce with Khartoum which is supposed to lead to a more formal peace deal to be negotiated over the next few weeks. JEM is dominated by the Zaghawan tribe. Chadian President Idriss Deby is also Zaghawan, and Khartoum has long-accused him of providing major support to Ibrahim's rebellion.

Chad and Sudan agreed to end their proxy wars last month, and soon after the cease-fire deal between JEM and Khartoum was hammered out in the Chadian capital.

But analysts say that any lasting peace deal in Darfur will also have to incorporate the main factions of SLM.

SLM's leadership is mostly Fur, the region's most populous people group. Unlike JEM, which is viewed as holding Islamist ideologies similar to those of the Bashir regime, SLM is seeking a more secular form of rule.

Some outside officials have attempted to broaden the Darfuri representation participating in peace talks, which Abdel Wahid continues to snub. U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration helped bring together a group of breakaway SLM officials in Addis Ababa last year, and a separate group of rebel factions also banded together in the Libyan capital.

These two groups have now merged, forming the Liberation and Justice Movement. This new umbrella group apparently hopes to ride the momentum of the JEM-Khartoum deal to strike its own agreement with the government.

But JEM, which has in the past said that it would only accept sharing the negotiating table with Abdel Wahid's SLM faction, is threatening to pull out of the peace framework agreement if Khartoum talks with the new LJM group.

More than 300,000 are thought to have died in the Darfur conflict, although Khartoum rejects these figures.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs