Darfur's JEM rebel leader says "We're going to have our own country"
The head of one of the three rebel groups in Darfur has mentioned the possibility of his group seeking independence for the western Sudanese region after it failed to sign up to the recent peace deal, TV Slovenija reported.
Khalil Ibrahim, who took part in talks with Slovenian President Janez Drnovsek on Wednesday, told the Slovenian public broadcaster that his Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) would seek independence if there was no peace in Darfur.
"Now as the next step that means that we will ask for self-determination - we're going to have our own country," Khalil told TV Slovenija, which said that this is the first time he has mentioned the possibility of independence.
Moreover, Khalil believes it does not make sense to extend the deadline for JEM to sing on to the peace agreement since the mediators from the African Union and International partners refuse to accept JEM's demand that the people of Darfur be compensated for the damage caused during the civil war.
"The most important point is not to make extension but to make substantive changes and commitments," he said.
Moreover, he claimed that his movement was put under enormous pressure during the peace talks in Abuja. "You sign or we will kill you, this is what they told us," he said.
Photo: Khalil Ibrahim (Sudan Tribune)
Note April 1, 2006 report Sudanese rebel group JEM dismisses peace talks and calls for Darfur's sovereignty - excerpt:
The chair of Darfur rebels group JEM, Khalil Mohammed, on Wednesday dismissed Darfur peace talks as "a waste of time, energy and resources of stakeholders." He said the peace talks would not achieve any meaningful result as they were "merely going in circles."
Mohammed said that if the African Union's April deadline for peace in the region lapsed without success, "the people of Darfur will be left with no choice other than to ask for self-determination".
"If we do not get our own sovereignty, the only alternative is a forceful change of the government in Khartoum," Chairman of Darfur rebel group JEM threatened.