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TEXT: Darfur rebel form new umbrella to negotiate with Sudan

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July 14, 2007 (ASMARA) — Five Darfur groups announced Saturday from the Eritrean capital the creation of a new rebel umbrella in a bid to reunite their effort to start peace talks with Sudanese government.

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Rebels from the SLA, pictured along the Chad-Sudan border, Feb. 17, 2007

The United Front for Liberation & Development (UFLD), is created in Asmara today after one and a half months of meetings by five Darfur groups: The UFLD members said they formed a joint front to meet the challenges in Darfur in particular and the Sudan in general and further called on other groups to follow suit and support the step they had taken.

The members of this front are : SLA/M – (Khames Abdalla Command); SLM/A – Unity Command; Revolutionary Democratic Front Forces. (RDFF); National Movement for Reform & Development (NMRD); Sudan Federal Democratic Alliance (SFDA).

Observers said the formation of this group may help to end the fragmentation of the rebel groups. Nonetheless they regretted the absence of important groups. They attributed this failure to the rejection of the important rebel groups to any Eritrean role in the forthcoming talks.

Eritrea is expected to support the inclusion of the newly formed group with other main groups in the expected peace talks to end Darfur conflict.

Sudanese president Omer al-Bashir has lauded last week Eritrean efforts for peace in Darfur.

The five rebel groups have assigned the chairmanship of the new front to Khames Abdalla Abakr to chair the first round of six month rotation. Abakar was a founder member of the National Redemption Front (NRF).

Moreover the Leadership Council has established five specialized departments to shoulder executive responsibilities, the groups said

The following is the text of the ULFD statement:

Final Communiqué

United Front for Liberation & Development (UFLD)

In response to a kind invitation from the State of Eritrea, partner with the Republic of Chad and the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in the regional initiative for peace in Darfur; the representatives of resistance movements met in Asmara from May 27th to July 14th, 2007 to reach a unified position at this critical stage of their struggle. The following movements participated in the deliberations:

1- SLA/M – (Khames Abdalla Command).
2- SLM/A – Unity Command.
3- Revolutionary Democratic Front Forces. (RDFF).
4- National Movement for Reform & Development (NMRD).
5- Sudan Federal Democratic Alliance (SFDA).

Following extensive and continuous discussions, the movements agreed on the following steps:-

1. Establishing a united front to deal with the crisis in Darfur and the Sudan; and appeal to all other movements to contribute to unity efforts.

2. Setting-up a unified internal structure for the front with a Leadership Council (LC), specialized departments and Consultative Council to lead negotiations efforts, political and military struggles.

3. Creating a Joint Military Command.

4. Chairmanship of the LC is rotational between Heads of Movements (each for six months duration).

5. The LC will appoint a negotiating team that will be issued a common position.

6. The LC is the highest authority of the ULFD and its decisions are taken collectively.

For the purposes of rendering this agreement operational, the LC decided to assign Cdr Khames Abdalla Abakr to Chair the first round of six month rotation. Moreover the LC has established five specialized departments to shoulder executive responsibilities.

ULFD would to express its gratitude to President Isaias Afwerki and the State of Eritrea together with Libya and Chad, the core group of the regional initiative and under whose auspices our meetings took place. Our deep appreciation is extended to the SPLM/A & GOSS for their continued engagement and kind invitation. Particular recognition is due to the internal community represented by the UN, the EU and the AU for their concern and support.

Asmara, July 14th 2007.

(ST)

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