By Wasil Ali
January 17, 2009 (WASHINGTON) — The leader of the major Darfur rebel group to sign a peace agreement with Khartoum accused some countries of seeking to make the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) the major power ahead of expected peace talks.
“There is a joint conspiracy between JEM and some countries to make Khalil Ibrahim [JEM chief] get rid of any other factions in so he can become the John Garang of Darfur in Doha negotiations” Minni Minnawi leader of former rebel group Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) told Sudan Tribune by phone today.
“These countries are pushing Ibrahim to use force to become the main power in Darfur but this is impossible and will never happen” Minnawi stressed.
But the senior presidential assistant declined to name the countries backing JEM in this plan.
The Darfur rebel group has recently expressed dissatisfaction what they consider as being sidelined by the Qataris in their mediation efforts to bring the warring parties together.
A crisis erupted between Minnawi’s faction and the southern Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) after the former suggested that the latter is involved in the recent fighting and that they are providing diplomatic and political support to JEM.
However Minnawi later apologized to SPLM chairman Salva Kiir according to the pro-SPLM newspaper Ajras Al-Hurriya.
Minnawi’s statements come days after his forces clashed with JEM at the town of Muhageria in southern Darfur.
Both rebel groups claimed to have inflicted heavy losses on the other side during the fighting that displaced hundreds in the area according to UN peacekeepers
Minnawi sounding angry called on the international community to condemn what he described as “blatant aggression” by JEM.
“Muhageria has enjoyed stability and security for five years. They [JEM] have disrupted the livelihood of the people” he said.
“JEM must withdraw unconditionally from the area” the SLM leader added.
Sudan official news agency reported that Minnawi has flown to El-Fasher in North Darfur.
The former rebel leader accused JEM as being “the military wing” of the Islamist Popular Congress Party (PCP) led by Hassan Al-Turabi something which Khartoum has persistently alleged.
In May 2006, the SLM signed the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) with the Sudanese government and its head Minnawi was appointed as the senior assistant of the Sudanese president in August.
But Minnawi have expressed frustration with implementation of the DPA saying the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) is deliberately stalling it.
UN experts estimate some 300,000 people have died and 2.5 million driven from their homes. Sudan blames the Western media for exaggerating the conflict and puts the death toll at 10,000.