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New group of Darfur rebel commanders merge with JEM

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April 11, 2009 (PARIS) — Some 21 political leader and military commander from the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) – Unity announced yesterday their merger with the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), joining a first group that merged with JEM recently.

Formed by SLM commanders who defected from the former rebel leader Minni Minnawi after the signing of Darfur Peace Agreement in 2006, the leader of the group Abdallah Yahya failed, despite the respect he had among the military commanders, to impose his authority with a clear political vision.

A rebel veteran Suleiman Jamous, who joined JEM two weeks ago with some 30 commanders, criticized Yahya for joining a Libyan initiative to forge common grounds between SLM-Unity and other small groups saying the group had to seek unity with real groups not with fictive ones.

Jamous further accused the SLM-Unity leadership of seeking to at any cost to maintain themselves at the presidency of a group. He further stressed "with divisions we are harming the cause of Darfur people."

The four political leaders and 17 military commanders who joined JEM said in a press statement released yesterday that their merger is motivated by the need "to build a strong fortress of struggle able to reach the targeted goals and to protect it."

The SLM-Unity and JEM held since 2007 several rounds of talks in order to create one movement but the negotiations had failed because of some tribal and political motivations.

However, the SLM factions failed to reunite themselves and the fears of marginalization pushed other to join bigger groups.

Two of this second SLM-Unity group that merged with JEM yesterday, Hammad Shatta Rabah, and Sediq Bura Moussa, were close to Charif Harir, a secular Sudanese opponent and a former leading member of the Federal Alliance of Ahmed Diraig.

JEM has suspended a peace process that it had agreed to engage with the Sudanese government last February in Doha. The rebel group asks Khartoum to implement the goodwill agreement they inked and to allow the return of 13 aid groups ousted after the arrest warrant against the President Omer Al-Bashir on March 4.

(ST)

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