Home | News    Thursday 24 July 2003 (Date first published: 24 July 2003).

Sudan government breaks off peace talks with Darfur rebels

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KHARTOUM, July 24 (AFP) — Sudan’s government has halted peace talks with rebels in west Sudan’s North Darfur state and instructed its negotiators to return, a senior security official said Thursday.

"The rebel groups in North Darfur pretend to prefer dialogue and negotiation in order to gain time for building their capabilities," national security chief Salah Abdallah said, quoted by the state-run news agency SUNA.

The security official has accused Sudan’s southern rebel movement of despatching munition to the rebels in Darfur.

"Dialogue with those renegade elements has stopped and the group that has sought dialogue with them has been instructed to come back," said Major General Abdallah.

A group of Zaghawa dignitaries, including Education Minister Ahmed Babikir Nahar and River Nile State governor Abdallah Ali Masar, were sent to the rebel stronghold for talks with their mostly Zaghawa fellow tribesmen.

"We hope an opportunity will be made available in the coming period for a military confrontation with this group of outlaws that works for disturbing the security and stability of the people of North Darfur," the security chief said.

The Darfur rebels have agreed to a two- to three-week truce in their six-month-old war with the government, a Khartoum newspaper reported Wednesday.

The agreement was reached after three weeks of talks with the government delegation in the rebel stronghold of Kornoy, the independent daily Al-Sahafa said in a report from the North Darfur State capital of al-Fasher.

The rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) submitted a list of 12 demands, including its formal recognition as a political party, the paper said.

The SLM also demanded that the government stop deploying Arab tribal militiamen against its forces and cease branding its supporters as bandits and highwaymen.

The government had previously refused to acknowledge any political motivation for the unrest among the sedentary peoples of North, South and West Darfur states, blaming it instead on "armed criminal gangs and outlaws".

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