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Darfur rebels reject draft Doha accord

JEM, the most heavily armed of the Darfur rebel movements, has been participating alongside the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) in the foundering peace talks with the Sudanese government in the Qatari capital.
by Staff Writers
Khartoum (AFP) April 28, 2011
The main Darfur rebel group involved in the Doha peace talks said Thursday it "totally rejected" the draft documents submitted by UN mediators, further undermining prospects of a Sudan accord.

"We received the documents from the mediators in Doha yesterday. But we are disappointed with them as they offer less than the Abuja agreement," the Justice and Equality Movement's spokesman Gibril Adam said.

He was referring to a peace accord signed by rebel leader Minni Minnawi in 2006.

Adam said the solutions the latest documents proposed to the problem of refugees, compensation for Darfuris affected by the eight-year conflict, power and wealth sharing, and the restoration of land taken by Arab tribes all fell short.

"For all these reasons, we have totally rejected these documents," Adam told AFP by telephone from Doha.

JEM, the most heavily armed of the Darfur rebel movements, has been participating alongside the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) in the foundering peace talks with the Sudanese government in the Qatari capital.

Djibril Bassole, the outgoing UN and African Union mediator on Darfur, had been under pressure to submit draft texts acceptable to the three parties, with Khartoum signalling its growing frustration at the lack of progress.

The talks have effectively been in limbo since officials in Khartoum announced unilateral plans to hold a referendum on the administrative status of the war-torn region, now set to take place on July 1, according to the National Election Commission.

The vote, which would determine whether Darfur is granted regional status, which would give it a greater degree of autonomy, or remains as individual states, has been strongly criticised by the main rebel groups.

JEM accuses the government of being unwilling to reach a negotiated settlement, and criticised the draft documents on Thursday for failing to mention the region's administrative status.

Others argue that any referendum on how Darfur should be governed is impossible before peace has been established in the region.

Exiled rebel leader Abdelwahid Nur told AFP on Thursday that Antonov aircraft of the Sudanese armed forces had bombarded the Gorlang area of eastern Jebel Marra, Darfur's fertile central uplands.

He said three people were killed in Wednesday's attack and 17 wounded.

An army spokesman was not immediately available to comment on the allegations, which could not be independently verified.

Following a relative lull in the fighting in Darfur, renewed clashes between rebels and the army since December have resulted in more than 70,000 new arrivals at camps for the displaced, according to UN reports.

At least 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur and 1.8 million people fled their homes since the conflict broke out erupted in 2003 between non-Arab rebels and the Arab-dominated Khartoum regime, the United Nations says.

The government puts the death toll at 10,000.

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