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Sudanese official calls on Darfur rebels to resume peace talks

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February 29, 2008 (KHARTOUM) — Sudanese State Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, al-Samani al-Wasila, Thursday urged rebel groups in the western region Darfur to stop violence and return to the negotiating table for a peace agreement with the federal government.

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Al-Samani al-Wasila (AFP)

In an interview with the Chinese Xinhua, Wasila also called on the international community to exert pressure on the rebel groups which were attempting to destroy Darfur’s security and persuade them to return to the negotiating table.

In February 2003, rebel groups took up arms against the Khartoum government, accusing it of marginalizing the region.

At the beginning, there were only two rebel groups, namely, the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). But as the conflict continued, Darfur’s rebels have split into a confusing array of competing factions, which many analysts believe total at least 20.

The Darfur peace negotiations between the government and these rebel groups have been in deadlock since the first peace agreement— the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA), and so far the only one, was signed in May 2006.

The accord was signed between the Sudanese government and the SLM-Minni Minnawi faction, one of the several leading rebel groups in Darfur.

But the agreement failed to stop the conflict, because the other major rebel groups, including the JEM and SLM-Abdel Wahid el-Nur, refused to sign it.

Last October, the negotiation process was resumed in Libya at a conference under the co-sponsorship of the United Nations and the African Union. But several rebel factions, including the JEM, which had initially pledged to participate in the talks, eventually failed to show up at the conference in Libya, citing various reasons.

(Xinhua)

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