DARFUR REBELS SUSPEND PEACE TALKS
Darfur's most powerful rebel group said on Monday it was suspending peace talks with Sudan's government, accusing Khartoum of attacking villages and military positions in breach of a ceasefire.
Reuters reports that the announcement from the Justice and Equality Movement was largely symbolic as formal talks had been stalled for months, but it underlined the distance between the two sides seven years after the conflict in the Darfur region began.
'Because of the ongoing comprehensive offensive against the civilian population in Darfur and because of the aggression against our forces on the ground, JEM has decided to freeze its participation in the Doha peace process,' JEM spokesman Ahmed Hussein Adam told Reuters by telephone.
JEM accused Sudan's army of bombing its positions and nearby settlements in the Jabel Moun area of West Darfur, close to the border with Chad, over the past two weeks.
Joint United Nations/African Union peacekeepers said they were not able to confirm the reports as they did not have troops in the area and it was not possible to get other independent verification.
No one was immediately available to comment from Sudan's army but the force has regularly denied mounting any offensives in the remote border area.
JEM was one of two mostly non-Arab rebel groups which took up arms against Sudan's government in 2003, accusing it of starving the remote western region of funding and marginalising its people.
Khartoum, which mobilised mostly Arab militias to crush the uprising, announced a new peace push in the region late 2008. It signed a ceasefire with JEM in Qatar in February this year, as well as a 'framework' agreement setting out the terms for future negotiations.