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Libyan envoy says Sudan never requested expulsion of Darfur rebel chief

July 1, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — The Libyan ambassador to Khartoum disclosed that the Sudanese government never made a request to expel the leader of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) Khalil Ibrahim who has been residing in Libya since last May.

Ibrahim has been forced to stay in Tripoli after Chad denied him entry and destroyed his passports bringing a long standing relations between JEM and Ndjamena to a low point. The militarily powerful group used Chad as a transit point to enter Darfur and a logistical base.

The Sudan government at the most senior levels has been publicly and privately urging Libya to expel the JEM leader and also citing an arrest warrant circulated by the Interpol for extraditing him over his role in the 2008 attack on the Sudanese twin capital city of Omdurman.

Last week, the director of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) Mohamed Atta Al-Moula Abbas announced that Libya is in the process of ejecting Ibrahim at the directive of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

But the Libyan envoy Saeed Al-Mahdi in Sudan suggested that Abbas’s assertions are not true saying he has not heard such a message addressed to Tripoli.

"This is not true [that Sudan asked to expel Ibrahim], we have not heard of this position and brother President Omer al-Bashir did not demand the expulsion of Khalil nor did the Sudanese Foreign Ministry" Al-Mahdi told the independent Khartoum based Al-Akhbar newspaper in an interview.

"All we have heard that Khartoum requested that there not be any hostile acts emanating from Libya and that was promised by the Libyan leadership..under any circumstances," he said.

The Libyan ambassador stressed that decision to host the JEM leader is a result of his country’s role and commitment as a founder of the African Union (AU) and a sponsor of peace in the continent.

"Khalil is a political party in a barbed internal issue in Sudan and a signatory to a framework agreement with the Sudanese government and we hope that things are moving towards a negotiated peace and resorting to peace from all parties," he said.

Darfur’s most militarily powerful rebel force, JEM suspended its participation in the peace talks since May 2, saying it wants the reform of the peace process in a way to widen the mandate of the joint mediator and requested guarantees of the neutrality of the host country, Qatar, accused of favoring the Sudanese government.