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

Nearly Every Job in America Mapped in Detail

A nifty map pinpoints practically every job in the United States, revealing the economic character of America’s metropolitan areas, which also helps to inform the local culture

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

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

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs