SUDAN WATCH: Dissident Darfur rebels to sign peace deal tomorrow

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Dissident Darfur rebels to sign peace deal tomorrow

AFP report just in via Mail & Guardian - excerpt:
Dissident factions of two Darfur rebel groups that have rejected a peace deal for the troubled western Sudanese region are to sign onto the pact this week, African Union officials said on Wednesday.

Splinter wings of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) are to sign a specially prepared annex to the May 5 AU-mediated peace accord here on Thursday, the officials said.

"The dissident JEM and SLM rebels are going to sign a declaration on Thursday saying that they support the Darfur Peace Agreement," said Assane Ba, a spokesperson for the Addis Ababa-based pan-African body.

"The declaration will then be annexed to the original accord and will bring these rebels into line with the other signatories," he said.

Representatives of the two groups have been in the Ethiopian capital since last week when a May 31 deadline for hold-outs to the agreement to sign or face possible sanctions passed with no new signers.

They said on Friday they were ready to accept the deal but were waiting until the AU came up with a mechanism for them to join the peace deal.

The AU Peace and Security Council is due to meet on Thursday to approve the annex to the agreement, which is hoped will put further pressure on the remaining hold-outs to sign, diplomats said.

"For the AU, this serves to marginalise those who have not yet signed and keep up pressure for them to join the process," one African diplomat told Agence France-Presse on condition of anonymity.

Only one Darfur rebel group, the main wing of the SLA, has thus far signed the peace deal with Khartoum and AU officials have become increasingly frustrated with the refusal of the JEM and an SLA faction led by Abdel Wahid Mohammed al-Nur to accept it.

AU commission chief Alpha Oumar Konare told reporters on Thursday that discussions with al-Nur's faction were ongoing.

"We maintain contacts," he said. "We received a message from Abdel Wahid saying he is ready to come, but he has some conditions. Now we have to examine those conditions."


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