Darfur peace bid hits snag

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Pic. David Karp. 18/09/07. © AP.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Pic. David Karp. 18/09/07. © AP.

PARIS - One of Darfur's most powerful rebel leaders will not take part in peace talks until a lasting ceasefire is in place and security is restored, he said in an interview yesterday.

Abdel Wahed Mohamed el-Nur has refused to join Darfur rebel commanders and groups who agreed on a joint position last month, saying he wants international troops to disarm militias to secure the region ahead of talks with the government.

In an interview with French newspaper Le Monde, Nur, whose backing is key to any peace deal, stuck to his position.

"I will refuse to take part in political negotiations as long as my people continue to be massacred, raped, colonised," he said.

Nur commands few troops but enjoys huge support among the 2,5 million people who have fled their homes to camps in Darfur and to Chad during four years of fighting.

Rebels took up arms in 2003, accusing the central government of marginalising the arid west. Khartoum mobilised militias to quell the revolt.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, pictured, said on Monday that recent fighting in Darfur could derail peace talks set for Libya next month. - Reuters

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