JEM-Ibrahim expands by forming alliance with SFDA & Darfur rebel holdouts to deal with all the issues of Sudan: National Redemption Front (NRF)
Three Darfur rebel groups that have refused to sign up to an African Union-mediated peace deal for the troubled western Sudanese region formed a new alliance to fight Khartoum on Friday.- - -
Officials from the groups created the National Redemption Front (NRF) after talks in the Eritrean capital and reaffirmed their opposition to the Abuja peace agreement, signed by only one rebel army and Khartoum in May.
The front is made up of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), a holdout faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and the Sudan Federal Democratic Alliance (SFDA), according to a "founding declaration" released in Asmara.
"We, leaders of political and military organisations abstaining from signing the Abuja document ... reaffirm our rejection of that faulty process," they said in a statement.
"Realising the virtues of combining efforts and resources to end the suffering of our people, we hereby join hands in establishing the National Redemption Front (NRF), as an instrument for coordinating political, military, diplomatic and media initiatives," they said.
The declaration was signed by JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim, Khamis Abdalla Abakar of the dissident SLM faction and Sharif Harir and Ahmed Ibrahim Diraige from the SFDA, all of whom said the peace deal did not go far enough.
Ibrahim said after the creation of the new group that it would accept as members any other movement that opposed the Abuja agreement and the policies of the Sudanese government in general.
"This front is open to all other movements who do not accept the Abuja document," he said. "This front will not only deal with the Darfur issue but all the issues in Sudan."
There has been strong pressure on holdout groups to accept the AU-mediated Darfur peace agreement that aims to end three years of war in Darfur that have killed an estimated 300,000 people and displaced 2.4 million others.
The pan-African body has threatened sanctions on groups that do not sign the accord which was inked by Khartoum and the largest SLM faction in the Nigerian capital on May 5.
Friday's declaration of the new front came on the eve of a summit of AU leaders in Gambia who are expected to renew calls for Sudan to accept the transfer of the bloc's Darfur peacekeeping mission to the United Nations.
Decades of tribal fighting in Darfur erupted into all-out violence in 2003, when ethnic minority rebels took up arms, accusing the Arab government in Khartoum of neglect and calling for autonomy.
IRIN Report Special on Whos Who: Sudan Federal Democratic Alliance - Opposition organisation based in Darfur - its chairman is Ahmad Ibrahim Dirayj.
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Feb 4 2004 IRIN report "Sudan: Dialogue On Humanitarian Access in Darfur" - reprinted at SPLM Today (site currently under construction)
Meanwhile, Chadian President Idriss Deby, who mediated in peace talks between the government and the SLA until they broke down in December, said on 2 February that he would renew his mediation efforts.- - -
Both the SLA and the JEM, who have called for international mediators, have said publicly that they consider Deby too close to Khartoum to trust. The chairman of the SFDA, Ahmad Ibrahim Dirayj, told IRIN from London that he had met Taha in Kenya on 23 January and was now engaging in talks with the two rebel groups to try to bring about a ceasefire agreement.
He said the SFDA was pushing for unrestricted humanitarian access in Darfur, a protocol on the protection of civilians, and the disarming and disbanding of militias by the government.
Feb 10, 2004 Eric Reeves op-ed: Khartoum Refuses to Attend Talks on Humanitarian Access for Darfur, February 10, 2004 - The Sudan Federal Alliance party, whose chairman Ahmad Ibrahim Dirayj is from Darfur, had also agreed to participate and help bring about a cease-fire, or at least a pause in fighting for humanitarian purposes.
Jun 30 2006 Sudan Tribune: Founding Declaration of Darfur's National Redemption Front