SUDAN WATCH: Darfur's JEM rebels excluded from E Sudan peace talks

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Darfur's JEM rebels excluded from E Sudan peace talks

IRIN report June 14 via Reuters says peace talks aimed at ending a simmering civil conflict in eastern Sudan are not expected to become a drawn-out process, Sudanese authorities said. Excerpt:
The eastern rebels accuse the Sudanese government of marginalising the remote regions of the country and demand greater autonomy.

The EF - an alliance between two rebel movements, the Beja Congress and a smaller insurgency, the Rashaida Free Lions - has been active in the poor region near the Eritrean border, but fighting is sporadic and on a small scale.

Other rebel groups, such as the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), which is also active in Darfur, have gained importance but been kept outside the negotiations, however. Observers fear their exclusion might derail a potential eastern peace deal.

"We do not accept the decision to exclude us from the talks between the Eastern Front and Khartoum," said JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim in Asmara on Tuesday. "Khartoum will not get peace if we don't participate in the talks," he added, warning that JEM's presence in the east could not be ignored.

El-Samani acknowledged JEM's geographical presence in the east, but stressed they had no role to play at the peace talks. "They have not been invited for the simple reason that they have nothing to do with the Eastern Front talks - by no means - because they are from Darfur," he said.
Note, the report points out Eastern Sudan is a strategic region that includes Port Sudan - the country's economic lifeline, through which most of its foreign trade passes - the oil pipeline, many irrigated and semi-mechanised agricultural schemes, and a long border with Eritrea, with whom Sudan has had rocky relations for the past 12 years.

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