SUDAN WATCH: Darfur's JEM rebels threaten to topple eastern Sudan peace talks - SPLA hands over Hamesh Koreb to Kassala State

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Darfur's JEM rebels threaten to topple eastern Sudan peace talks - SPLA hands over Hamesh Koreb to Kassala State

June 13, 2006 Reuters report confirms eastern Sudan peace talks to begin in Asmara after delay: "The United Nations will be participating in the talks tonight," UN spokeswoman Radhia Achouri said on Tuesday. UN observation of the talks is a key rebel demand.

Darfur's JEM rebel group threatened on Tuesday to scuttle peace efforts in Sudan's east if excluded from planned negotiations, Sudan Tribune reported June 13, 2006:
"We do not accept the decision to exclude us from the talks between the Eastern Front and Khartoum," Khalil Ibrahim, leader of Justice Equality Movement (JEM) said in Asmara. "Khartoum will not get peace if we don't participate in the talks," Ibrahim said, warning that JEM's presence in the east could not be ignored.

The Sudanese government and the Eastern Front fighters - grouping rebels from the region's largest ethnic group, the Beja, along with Rashaida Arabs - are set to open talks later Tuesday in a bid to end a simmering civil conflict in eastern Sudan.

Ibrahim said he had told Eastern Front rebels that they stood to benefit from JEM's group's participation in the peace negotiation.

"If we join the Front in the talks they will get more," he said. "They need experience and political awareness - on the other side, there is a well-trained group from the government."

The JEM, which is active in the conflict-ravaged western region of Darfur, has also emerged as a key player in eastern Sudan. It demands a seat at the presidency as part of any peace settlement, but has not been invited to the Asmara talks.

The Eastern Front, formed last year, controls an area on the Sudanese-Eritrean border around the town of Hamesh Koreb and has been involved in low-intensity guerrilla activity against the Khartoum government for years.
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Kassala State's Government has received Hamesh Koreb area from Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) Sunday in the framework of the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Sudan Tribune reported June 12, 2006:
Hamesh Koreb, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) northeast of Khartoum in Sudan's Kassala province, was the largest town controlled by the SPLM/A in eastern Sudan during the 21-year north-south civil war that ended last January.

The first phase of Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLA) withdrawal from Eastern Sudan to the Southern Sudan commenced on 20 April.
SPLA troops east Sudan

Photo: SPLA troops before their departure to South Sudan from the east. (ST)


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