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Darfur Peace Talks ‘Not Serious,’ Says Rebel JEM spokesman

The march called Hope for Darfur, Justice in Sudan was organized by the Darfur Interfaith Network. Christians, Muslims, Jews and other faiths participated in congregations throughout the Washington area, 23 May 2010

A top official with the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in Sudan has dismissed as a mere “publicity stunt” ongoing peace talks between the government and the Liberty and Justice Movement (LJM), another Darfur-based rebel group.

JEM spokesman Ahmed Aden said President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir and his dominant National Congress Party (NCP) are not interested in resolving the Darfur crisis.

“We’ve said it time and time again that what’s going on in Doha is just a conspiracy, not serious talks. It’s not a meaningful kind of process and is not something that the people of Darfur get out of it any kind of benefit. What is going on there the NCP is negotiating with NCP because the LJM is not a movement (rebel group). The LJM is just a formation created by the government of Sudan and created by the mediators and the host country,” he said.

Aden’s comment comes after the Sudanese government started talks with the rebel LJM group in Qatar’s capital, Doha Wednesday. The talks are aimed at finalizing a peace deal by mid-July.

Previous talks between the government and the LJM were put on hold due to Sudan’s recent elections, which President Bashir won by a landslide.

Composed mainly of several rebel groups in Darfur, the LJM recently signed a ceasefire agreement with President Bashir’s government.

But, JEM’s spokesman Aden said the talks will not benefit residents of Darfur.

“We know what is going to happen at the end of the day. They are going to sign any kind of document because the document is already there (and) because they (government officials) have already agreed to give them jobs here and there. There is nothing there for the people of Darfur, nothing about (a) comprehensive, just and fair resolution of the conflict,” Aden said.

He also said the talks are a calculated attempt by President Bashir’s government to “throw dust in the eyes of the people of Darfur, as well as the international community.”

Aden said the talks present just a photo opportunity for Khartoum.

“At the end of the day, they will sign that document and they will bring in other news agencies and they do the p.r. (public relations) thing and that is it, unfortunately. That is why JEM is fighting for our (marginalized) people,” Aden said.

After signing a peace agreement with the Sudanese government in February, JEM suspended further negotiations after accusing Khartoum of continuing attacks on its positions – a charge the government denies.

JEM also refused to participate in other peace talks involving LJM saying President Bashir’s government is not interested in finding a lasting solution to the Darfur crisis.