9 June 2006

Sudan: Rebel Splinter Factions Commit to Darfur Peace Deal

Addis Ababa — Factions from two Sudanese rebel groups that had refused to sign the Darfur Peace Agreement signed a declaration of commitment to the pact on Thursday, effectively pledging to abide by its terms.

The main wing of the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A), led by Minni Minnawi, and the Sudanese government signed the African Union- brokered agreement on 5 May, but breakaway factions of the rebellion refused to sign it, prompting the international community to set a deadline of 31 May.

On that day, however, Abdelwahid Mohamed al-Nur's faction of the SLM/A and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) leader Khalil Ibrahim once again refused to accept the deal because it did not fulfil their key political and security demands.

Thirty representatives, including commanders and politicians from the splinter wings of the SLM/A and JEM, signed the declaration at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital. "With this declaration, we are committing ourselves to the agreement in the same way as the other signatories and are hoping that it allows peace in Darfur," said Abdurahman Musa Abbakar of the SLM/A.

The leader of JEM's dissident group, Adam Abdurahman Aburisha, said the signing was a "historic moment" for Sudan. "I want to invite all people to adopt this peace agreement because this agreement belongs to all Sudanese and their neighbours," he said. "We will do everything possible to ensure that this agreement will be implemented. We are committed to it. We call on the people who are still fighting to allow the Darfurians to step out of war and to taste the fruit of peace."

The AU's special representative in Sudan, Baba Gana Kingibe, praised both groups. "The peace process has started, and those who haven't signed yet should rather jump on the train soon. If not, sooner or later, the Darfur people won't give them the choice," he said.

The pan-African body's Commissioner for Peace and Security, Said Djinnit, said a ministerial meeting would be held in Banjul, the Gambian capital, in July to discuss what measures would be taken against recalcitrant rebel groups.

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]

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