Home | News    Thursday 3 November 2005

Darfur rebel SLM dissolves institutions ahead of vote

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Nov 3, 2005 (KHARTOUM) — Sudan’s main Darfur rebel movement was officially dissolved before the election of a new leadership Thursday, after a power struggle saw hardliners seize control from the group’s founder.

The Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) announced the dissolving of all its institutions during a general congress attended by thousands of Darfurians and around 800 delegates in rebel-held Darfur near the central region of Kordofan.

"Ibrahim Ahmed Ibrahim has issued an order dissolving all institutions of the movement except the military," SLM spokesman Mahjub Hussein told AFP.

The order affected the group’s leadership organs, secretariat general and heads of SLM chapters abroad.

"Chairman Abdul Wahid Mohammed Nur and Secretary General Mani Arko Minawi will carry on as caretakers until new leaders are elected," Hussein said.

Nur refused to attend the meeting, saying he was not consulted in advance, diminishing his chances of being re-elected.

Hussein said the elections, expected to be held later Thursday, would be monitored by foreign observers, including African Union (AU) and United Nations representatives and delegates from Libya and the United States.

Organizers called the gathering to draw up a new strategy for the group and try to sort out outstanding differences between Minawi and Nur.

Nur arrived in Darfur a few days before the meeting opened, but decided not to travel to the venue.

The SLM and another rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), launched an armed rebellion against Khartoum in early 2003, demanding greater political and economic autonomy from the central government.

Successive rounds of AU-sponsored peace talks have so far failed to end the conflict, which has left some 300,000 people dead and displaced about two million, with more than 200,000 people seeking refuge in neighbouring Chad.

The SLM has accused the government of continuing raids in Darfur, even as talks in Abuja were underway.

As recently as Wednesday night, the SLM charged that government forces attacked a village in Darfur, killing three people, wounding 16 and torching 45 houses.

While Nur attended a latest round of peace negotiations in Nigeria, the dissident faction which is headed by Minawi and controls the movement’s military wing, boycotted the process.

Observers said the infighting threatened to increase the level of insecurity in the region and hamper efforts to find a peaceful settlement to the Darfur conflict that has been raging for the past 32 months.

"Unless reversed, the slow implosion of the rebel movements threatens to extend the tragic situation in Darfur indefinitely," a Brussels-based think-tank, the International Crisis Group (ICG), warned last month.

(AFP/ST)

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