Sudan recalls Darfur peace negotiators
Doha - Sudan is recalling its delegation to peace talks in Qatar, but that does not mean it is withdrawing from negotiations for a settlement in Darfur, a Sudanese official said on Thursday.
"We have just informed our mediators that our delegation will be departing on Friday," said Ghazi Salaheddine, the Sudanese government's special adviser on Darfur.
"The delegation will leave because it has nothing to do, but that does not mean we withdrew from the peace process, and the mediators have promised us a document" on a possible agreement in Darfur, he told a news conference.
He said that the Sudanese government was ready to examine the document, even without the delegation being present in Doha.
President Omar al-Bashir said on Wednesday that Sudan would withdraw from the Darfur peace talks and organise its own negotiations if no accord with the rebels was reached imminently.
"If we reach an agreement tomorrow, praise be to God. But if there is no agreement, we will withdraw our negotiating team and the talks will then be held in Darfur," Bashir told thousands of supporters in Nyala.
The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the most heavily armed Darfur rebel group, slammed Bashir's speech, calling it "a declaration of war".
"We condemn Bashir's speech today and we consider it a declaration of a new war," JEM spokesperson Ahmed Hussein Adam said after Bashir's speech.
The Khartoum government has for months been trying to secure a comprehensive peace agreement with all Darfur rebel groups, to no avail.
Earlier in December, the JEM resumed talks aimed at reaching a ceasefire.
The Liberty and Justice Movement (LJM), an alliance of rebel splinter factions, was expected to finalise a peace deal with Khartoum in mid-December after agreeing a ceasefire in March, but the accord was never signed.
Darfur has been gripped by a civil war since 2003 that has killed 300 000 people and displaced another 2.7 million, according to UN figures.
Khartoum says 10 000 people have died in the conflict.