Sudan: Government denies existence of new rebel group

NAIROBI, 27 February (IRIN) - The Sudanese government has denied the existence of a new rebel group in the country, which was this week reported to have seized a town in western Sudan.

AFP reported from Khartoum on Wednesday that a new rebel group, calling itself the Front for the Liberation of Darfur (FLD), had seized the town of Gulu in Jebel Marrah province, and installed its own administration. The region is not currently covered by ongoing peace talks to end the long-running civil war in the country.

Muhammad Ahmad Dirdeiry, spokesman at the Sudanese embassy in Nairobi, described the reports as an "exaggeration". He told IRIN that the so-called rebel group was a "gang of bandits" who had been terrorising residents of the region and who had no political agenda.

"These are not rebels but bandits," he said. "It is the first time we hear about them. To start by killing people and destroying their homes and villages is an indication of bandit activity."

Dirdeiry however admitted that the group had taken over "some mountainous areas because they think the government could not handle the terrain". He said the Khartoum government was currently considering its next course of action, but added there was no chance of the incident jeopardising the ongoing peace process.

"Darfur is very big and very heavily populated. It is difficult for a group to just take it. Up to now, the matter is being taken care of by the police and local authorities. The army is not involved," Dirdeiry said.

The reports of a rebellion in the region come barely a week after the London-based human rights organisation, Amnesty International, petitioned the Khartoum government to investigate deteriorating insecurity in the Darfur region.


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