Saturday, January 24, 2004

Sudan: fighting in Darfur

Sudan VP Ali Osman Taha met yesterday with Ahmed Ibrahim Draij, exiled leader of the Darfur opposition group, the Federal Alliance Party. Draij promised to use his considerable influence to bring an end to the fighting which has forced tens of thousands to flee the region.
Draij, who was a governor of Darfur in the 1970s before falling out with then president Jaafar Nimeiri and going into exile, said the Darfur "problem is of economic and political roots and should therefore be resolved politically.

"Fighting should be halted immediately and the two parties should agree on resuming the negotiation," said Draij, a Fur tribesman who is said to be influential among his big tribe and other Darfurians.
Last week, the Darfur rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), forged an alliance with an eastern rebel group, the Beja Congress. The Beja don't have a very large fighting force but they do have many grievances, especially since they were left out of the talks in Kenya. Here's what Ali al-Safi, member of the Central Committee of the Beja Congress, told IRIN ...
"It was quiet [in the east], because people were expecting to be included in the Naivasha [Kenya peace] talks," he said. "But from now it will not be quiet. One can expect an escalation of fighting in the east, because the government is seeking a partial solution [to Sudan's problems] with the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army [SPLM/A]."
In related news ... the Sudanese government may suspect Libya of supporting the Darfur rebels. (Note: Claim is attributed to an unnamed source and the story first appeared on the Sudanese opposition Democratic Unionist Party website.) The government has accused Eritrea of actively supporting the Darfur rebels as well.