Sudan rebels not interested in peace: Defense minister

AFP , Tuesday 18 Feb 2014

S. Sudan
Rebel delegates attend the resumption of South Sudan negotiations in Addis Ababa February 11, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

Rebels in Sudan's Kordofan region are not interested in peace, Khartoum's defence minister said Tuesday, adding to accusations hurled by the two sides during peace talks in Ethiopia.

"We hoped that the negotiations in Addis Ababa would be a road to peace in the two areas" of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohammed Hussein told more than 1,000 uniformed troops who shouted back, "Allahu Akbar (God is greatest) during a conference.

"But there are others who want something different," he said in Khartoum, without naming the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), ethnic rebels who have been fighting for almost three years in the two states.

The war has displaced or otherwise affected more than one million people, according to the United Nations.

Khartoum and the SPLM-N began their first peace talks in nearly a year last Thursday, under African Union mediation.

"We are keen for peace", said Hussein, but "they didn't want peace and security in the two areas".

He told members of the Popular Defence Force (PDF), a type of reserve unit used frequently to support the Sudan Armed Forces, that the military is ready to complete an offensive he announced last November to crush the insurgents.

Despite that vow, an African diplomat told AFP last week that "it's the same stalemate" in Kordofan and Blue Nile.

In Addis Ababa on Monday the head of the rebel delegation, Yassir Arman, said negotiations were deadlocked as Khartoum wants "to freeze this war without giving any solutions to the humanitarian situation and the political situation".

The government denied talks had stalled but accused SPLM-N of raising issues unrelated to the two warzones of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Hussein is wanted by the Hague-based International Criminal Court on 13 counts of alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes in Sudan's Darfur region.

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