Four Darfur Factions Unite for Talks With Sudanese Government
By Jason McLure
Aug. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Four Darfur rebel factions have agreed to unite following U.S. backed-talks in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.
Leaders from three factions of the Sudan Liberation Army and a splinter group Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) agreed to unify following four days of talks as part of a broader effort to fuse Darfur’s roughly 30 rebel militias for negotiations with the Sudanese government.
“The future is truly bright for Darfur,” said Scott Gration, U.S. special envoy for Sudan, at a press conference announcing the agreement. He hailed the agreement as a “remarkable job.”
JEM did not take part in the Addis Ababa talks and has quarreled openly with Gration. Last month JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim accused Gration of “acting like a foreign minister” for Sudan President Umar al-Bashir, after the U.S. envoy called for the lifting of some sanctions on Sudan. Gration also told a Senate panel that there was “no evidence” justifying Khartoum’s inclusion on the U.S. list of states sponsoring terrorism.
Gration sought to clarify those positions today, saying he “never made a statement” that Sudan should be removed from the U.S. list of state terrorism sponsors.
He emphasized that the U.S. should only consider lifting sanctions hindering aid efforts for Darfur and southern Sudan, such as restrictions on unloading relief supplies through Sudanese ports on the Red Sea.
Al-Bashir is under indictment by the International Criminal Court for alleged actions in Darfur, where the Sudanese government and its allies in Arab militias have battled a host of rebel groups. The United Nations estimates that 300,000 people have been killed and 3 million driven from their homes.