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

Video In US, Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy

Holiday marks date Columbus discovered Americas, but some are offended by legacy because he enslaved many natives he encountered More

Video Through Sports, Austria Tries to Give Migrants Traction

With 85,000 people expected to claim asylum in Austria this year, its government has made integration through joint physical activities a key objective More

Video Kickboxing Champion Shares Sport With Young Migrants

Pouring into Europe by hundreds of thousands, some migrants, especially youngsters, are finding sports a way to integrate into new host countries 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.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs