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AU, UNAMID "strongly" condemn killing of JEM-Sudan rebel leaders

May 13, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA/KHARTOUM) – The African Union Commission Chairperson has condemned, "in the strongest term", the killing of Justice and Equality Movement-Sudan (JEM-S) rebel leader at the border between Chad and Sudan.

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A picture from a Youtube video released by JEM-Bashar showing a military demonstration of their troops organised in Darma, North Darfur in 2012.

JEM-S leader, Mohamed Bashar, his deputy, Suleiman Arko Dahiya, and many other members of the rebel movement were killed Sunday, while heading to Darfur from Chad after the signing of peace agreement with the Sudanese government last April.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, in a statement, described the killing as a "cowardly act, aimed at dissuading the hold out groups in Darfur from joining the peace process."

"The Chairperson of the Commission wishes to recall that Mohamed Bashar and his Movement had embraced peace by signing an agreement with the Government of Sudan, on 6 April 2013, in Doha, Qatar," the statement reads in part.

The AU Commission chief, however, urged the Sudanese government, with the support of the AU-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice, while calling on JEM-S followers to exercise restraint.

Also, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the UNAMID Joint Special Representative condemned the "criminal attack", describing it as a setback to the ongoing peace process in the troubled region.

Chambas, also the Joint Chief Mediator in the Darfur peace initiative, urged all sides involved in the fighting in Sudan’s western region and especially the non-signatory armed movements to cease hostilities, respect international humanitarian law and engage fully in the peaceful settlement of the conflict.

JEM spokesperson Gibreel Adam Bilal confirmed Sunday’s clashes with Bashar forces but did not mention explicitly the killing Bashar and the other members of his group.

JEM-Sudan has previously referred to itself as the JEM-Military Council (JEM-MC) and JEM-Bashar.

(ST)