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Darfur rebel groups confirm they will attend new peace talks

NDJAMENA, Aug 18 (AFP) — Two rebel movements fighting government troops and Arab militias in Sudan’s western Darfur province confirmed Wednesday in Chad that they will attend a new round of peace talks next week.

Militiamen_of_the_JErebel_M.jpg“We’ll be at the meeting in (Nigeria’s capital) Abuja. Our delegation will consist of 26 people, the military and politicians,” a spokesman for the Movement for Justice and Equality (MJE) told AFP.

The coordinator of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), Ali Sugar, said his force would send a team of around 30 to the meeting next Monday, which has been prepared by the African Union. They were “ready to go”, he added.

On April 8 at talks in Ndjamena, the Khartoum government and the rebels signed a ceasefire in the war that broke out in Darfur in February 2003 and has led to the world’s worst current humanitarian crisis, according to the UN.

Each side has accused the other of truce violations.

Abdramane Fadoul, who is deputy to the coordinator of the MJE, said that in Abuja his movement wanted to confirm that “commitments made by the Sudanese government on April 8, particularly the disarming of the Janjaweed militias … have indeed been kept, in the presence of the international community.”

“As long as the commitments are not respected, there’s no question of going into political discussions,” he added.

Refugees, more than a million of whom are either internally displaced or living in camps in Chad across the border from Darfur. Human rights organisations have accused the Janjaweed militia of atrocities aimed at wiping out the region’s black African population.

The MJE’s military spokesman in Darfur said he was worried about the situation after government troops and Janjaweed gunmen attacked a displaced persons’ camp at Kalma near Nyala in South Darfur province, which was followed by a request Tuesday from Khartoum for Libyan leader Moamer Khadafi to “intervene personally”.

“We have the impression that they (the Sudanese government) don’t want to go to Abuja,” Colonel Abdallah Abdel Kerim, told AFP in Libreville by satellite telephone.

“There’s a contradiction, we’re not yet ready to negotiate what they’re discussing with Libya,” he added.

Libya has strongly opposed foreign intervention in Darfur, where a first Rwandan contingent of military observers has deployed on behalf of the AU, warning last week that it could spark another Iraq-style conflict.

On July 18, the rebels walked out of further negotiations organised by the AU in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, saying there would be no more talks until Khartoum met certain terms.

Sudanese authorities on Sunday submitted to the UN a list of 11 areas that had been made secure. Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail told reporters after talks with UN envoy Jan Pronk in Khartoum that the list had been drawn up in accordance with a plan of action thrashed out by the two men.

Pronk, however, issued a statement of “concern about the lack of progress registered so far on the ground and at the fact that the Janjaweed militia was still active around camps (for Internally Displaced Persons) and continued to be a threat”.

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