London, Asharq Al-Awsat- The unity-bound Sudan Liberation Movement has accused the Sudanese Government of attacking its positions in the region of Finu, west of Ayn Sirw, in northern Darfur. It said Government forces were staging a military buildup with the participation of Janjwid militias in the areas of Alla’it Jar al-Nabi, in the eastern part of the province, and Hamrat al-Sheikh in northern Kordofan. Sudanese Army sources were not immediately available to comment on the accusations. The SLM announced a state of mobilization and placed its forces on maximum alert.
Isam al-Hadj, the official spokesman for the movement which was unified last week, told Asharq al-Awsat from Juba that government forces assaulted the positions of the movement in the area of Finu. He said the SLM forces confronted the attack in a battle that lasted 45 minutes, inflicting losses in lives and equipment on the attackers. He said his movement was not committed to any ceasefire, adding that the violent statements made by President Umar al-Bashir some days ago, in urging the remobilization of the Popular Defense Forces, are tantamount to retraction of the government’s announcement of a ceasefire last month.
He added that the SLM was not involved in the ceasefire with the government forces and affiliated militias, pointing out that there were military buildups by the governmental forces and Janjawid militias in the northern, southern, and eastern parts of Darfur and in North Kordofan. He warned various parties against what he described as opportunistic attempts to steal the struggle of the SLM and build glories in the media. Al-Hadj condemned the silence of the international community over violations by the [ruling] National Congress Party [NCP] of international humanitarian law and its expulsion of the director of an organization affiliated to the United Nations. He said the expulsion came in implementation of a governmental plan to forcibly evict the internally displaced persons from their camps. “The regime is continuing to commit crimes of genocide and violations of human rights by depriving those inside the camps of food and water,” he said. He said the international community was to blame for these conditions, appealing to the Sudanese people to prepare for what he described as the decisive battle of national salvation against the Sudanese Government.
Meanwhile Ahmad Husayn, the spokesman for the Justice and Equality Movement [JEM] which rejects the Abuja Agreement disclosed to Asharq al-Awsat that a meeting would be held before the end of next week between the mediation team and JEM leader Dr Khalil Ibrahim in the areas it controls in Darfur. He said the aim would be to consult on the process of negotiations with the Sudanese Government but denied JEM has received an invitation to attend the second round of talks in Sirte scheduled for the first week of December. He said the meeting would provide an opportunity to discuss the reservations JEM had about the way the negotiations process was organized. He said JEM has not received any notification from the mediators on the date of the second round in Sirte, stressing that consultations were needed with all parties before setting a new date. “No dates can be imposed on the others without consulting with them,” he said. Hussein condemned the statements made by NCP leaders on reopening camps for its loyalist Popular Defense militias. He described these statements as frustrating and irresponsible, adding that they will make the country enter into an endless tunnel without a way out.
He considered the escalation as a reflection of a structural crisis inside the NCP. “We warn against playing with fire with extremely sensitive issues such as the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the relationship between North and South,” he said, adding that such statements created a poisonous atmosphere and sent negative signals on the Darfur issue. He said these statements also exposed the real intentions of the NCP, namely beating the war drums and promoting security and military solutions. Hussein commended the patriotic spirit with which the SPLM dealt with the escalatory statements by its partners. He said there was no alternative to solving Sudan’s problems through dialogue and political solutions and that “there can be no solution in Darfur without addressing the roots of the problem”.
He described as devoid of truth the statements by the Sudanese President’s advisor, Mustafa Othman Ismail that the SPLM had incited Darfur’s factions not to go to Sirte to negotiate with the Government. He said the failure of the Sirte negotiations was due to the Sudanese Government’s intransigence and its insistence on the policy of “divide and dominate”, in addition to inadequate organization by the mediators whom he said have fallen prey to the Government’s tactics. Hussein said that the Darfur factions were not a tool in anybody’s hands and that they have full independence in their decisions. “The Government has to look for another justification for its failures,” he said. He welcomed the unity moves announced by SLM factions from Juba, adding that his movement was also seeking to launch a comprehensive dialogue to bolster and entrench unity among the rebels.