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Demos in Sudan's Darfur ahead of donors' meet

Protests have taken place across Sudan's troubled Darfur region against an international donors' conference which begins in Qatar

AFP , Saturday 6 Apr 2013
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Demonstrations have taken place across Sudan's troubled Darfur region against an international donors' conference which begins on Sunday in Qatar, a civil society activist and other sources said on Saturday.

Some of the 1.4 million people displaced by Darfur's decade-long conflict protested on Friday at their camps near North Darfur's state capital El Fasher, and in Kalma camp, South Darfur, said the activist.

"They demonstrated because there is no security on the ground," added the activist, who asked not to be identified.

Sources in the region said four local residents were wounded on Saturday after gunfire was heard in an area about 100 kilometres (62 miles) east of South Darfur state capital Nyala.

The protesters on Friday objected to the Doha conference, where about 400 delegates, including representatives of aid agencies and governments from around the world, aim to woo support for a Darfur "recovery" strategy worth billions of dollars.

"What are they going to do with this money when there is no security?" the activist asked.

Protests also occurred in North Darfur's Kebkabiya, the Central Darfur capital Zalingei, and Nertiti town in the Jebel Marra region, the activist added.

Other sources confirmed that protests took place at camps in Nertiti, near Zalingei, and at Kalma where about 1,000 displaced people demonstrated.

The Kalma protesters had banners calling for an end to killings, and said they would not return to their villages until peace is restored.

They also objected to the 2011 peace deal which Khartoum signed in the Qatari capital with an alliance of rebel splinter factions.

Major insurgent groups rejected the pact, which UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in January had seen only limited progress in its implementation.

Sunday's meeting takes place as part of that peace pact, and comes 10 years after a rebellion erupted among the region's non-Arab ethnic groups.

The Sudan Liberation Army faction led by Minni Minnawi said its forces had killed government troops on Saturday and occupied Muhagiriya and Labado, two communities about 100 kilometres east of Nyala.

"Now the flags of SRF and SLA Minnawi are flying over both areas," the group claimed, in a reference to the Sudan Revolutionary Front, which the Minnawi group and other rebels formed in 2011 to topple the Khartoum regime.

Sudan's army spokesman and local officials could not be reached.

But sources in the region confirmed there had been a large rebel presence in the Muhagiriya and Labado area.

The rebels began their fight seeking an end to what they said was the domination of Sudan's power and wealth by the country's Arab elites.

In response, government-backed Arab Janjaweed militia shocked the world with atrocities against black Africans.

While the worst of the violence has long passed, inter-Arab battles, kidnappings, carjackings and other crimes add to the instability.

But the draft development strategy to be discussed in Doha says there will probably never be an ideal time for recovery, and delays can only make the process more difficult.

It seeks $7.2 billion (5.5 billion euros) for a six-year effort to move the region away from food handouts and other emergency aid, laying the foundation for lasting development through improved water facilities, the road network and other infrastructure.

It calls for agricultural upgrades, access to financing and other measures to help Darfuris support themselves under a more effective system of local government.

One source familiar with the situation recalled divisions which the 2011 peace deal created inside the displaced camps, leading to deadly violence, and said more protests surrounding the conference are likely.

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