JEM 'not serious' about peace

2010-03-29 08:13

Khartoum - Sudan's chief peace negotiator said on Sunday that a main Darfur rebel group, Justice and Equality Movement, was "not serious" about reaching a final settlement with the government.

"We have committed to finalising an agreement between now and April 5," Amin Hassan Omar told reporters in Khartoum.

"But JEM is not serious about reaching a peace agreement," he said, accusing the group of violating the ceasefire and failing to free prisoners despite a pledge to do so.

JEM, one of two key Darfur rebel groups along with the Sudan Liberation Army faction of Abdelwahid Nur, signed a framework accord in February in Qatar that was hailed by the international community as a major step towards bringing peace to the western region of Sudan devastated by a seven-year war.

But talks between Khartoum and JEM have since run into trouble and a deadline set under the accord for completing the peace deal passed on March 15 without agreement.

Shortly afterwards, the Khartoum government signed a framework peace deal in Doha with the Liberation and Justice Movement, another rebel group that forms an alliance of splinter factions.

Senior Sudanese officials at the time urged JEM to engage in "serious and sincere" talks to reach a final agreement.

Omar on Sunday insisted the Sudanese authorities had not re-arrested 15 JEM rebels last week, as alleged by their lawyer, after releasing them following the wavering truce.

"JEM wants to control Darfur, as well as (the central region of) Kordofan and Khartoum," he said.

According to sources in Chad, JEM is prepared to tone down its demands in return for a delay to the national multi-party elections due to be held on April 11-13.

But Sudan has said there is no reason to postpone the presidential, legislative and local elections, despite calls from Western observers and opposition parties for a delay.