SUDAN WATCH: Chad-Sudan: A third rebel movement the NMRD has appeared in Darfur

Friday, January 14, 2005

Chad-Sudan: A third rebel movement the NMRD has appeared in Darfur

A report by IRIN Jan 13 says the main rebel groups in Darfur view the newly formed rebel group National Movement for Reform and Development (NMRD) as a stooge of the authorities in Khartoum.

The report explains the NMRD claims to be a breakaway movement from JEM, one of the main rebel groups in Darfur. NMRD leader said his group broke away from JEM in April last year because it disagreed with Tourabi, an Islamic fundamentalist politician, over the rebel movement. Tourabi helped Sudan's current president, seize power in a 1989 coup and subsequently became an influential figure in his administration. However, the two men fell out 10 years later and Tourabi went into opposition.

Note, the report also says that Khartoum's talks with the NMRD in Chad appear to have made rapid progress: the two sides agreed a ceasefire on 17 December and on 3 January they struck a deal to promote the return of refugees from Chad to areas which the NMRD claims to control.

Ahmad Allami, an adviser of Chadian President Idriss Deby who has acted as a mediator in several rounds of peace talks with all three rebel movements in Darfur, said the NMRD were a force to be taken seriously. He estimated that the movement had about 1,000 fighters on the ground. "Contrary to what has been said, the NMRD do represent something in Darfur as they managed to prompt a number of Sudanese refugees to return to Sudan," Allami told IRIN.

A western diplomat based in N'Djamena also cautioned that the breakaway rebel movement should not be dismissed too lightly. "Our indications are that the NMRD should not be under-estimated since a sizeable part of JEM's military capacity appears to be under their control," he told IRIN.

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The main rebel groups in Darfur view the NMRD as a stooge of the authorities in Khartoum. "This group belongs to the Sudanese government ... it is very strange that the government negotiates with itself," said a JEM negotiator at the currently suspended Darfur peace talks in Abuja. (Photo IRIN)

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