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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs