Sudan urges Darfur rebels to lay down arms following leader’s death

December 25, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government has called on the holders of arms in Darfur region to resort to peace, citing the fate of rebel leader Khalil Ibrahim as an example of the futility of violence.

Sudan’s media minister Abdallah MasarSeveral attempts at reaching peace between the Sudanese government and fractured rebels in the country’s western region of Darfur was culminated in the signing of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur in mid-July. However, the deal was signed by one rebel faction while other groups, including the heavily armed Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), refused to sign and vowed to continue armed struggle to topple the government.

In a major development, JEM’s leader and founder Khalil Ibrahim was killed by government forces this week after his group launched wide-scale attacks in the neighboring state of North Kordofan.

In a statement issued on Saturday, Sudan’s minister of media Abdallah Masar said that the death of Khalil Ibrahim was the inevitable end of the path he chose and his intransigence in the face of peace efforts.

“Khalil’s position vis-à-vis peace talks was negative hence his group continued with its methods of violence, destruction and terrorization of civilians,” the minister said, citing reports of havoc allegedly wreaked by Khalil’s forces in north Kordofan.

Masar claimed that the government had seriously sought to include Khalil in the peace process but he refused to join and preferred to join ranks with other rebel groups to fight the government.

The minister was referring to the fact that JEM in late November forged an alliance known as the Sudanese Revolutionary Forces with two Darfur rebel factions and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N), a group aligned with the Republic of South Sudan and fighting the government in the border regions of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

The minister’s statement appealed to the remaining rebels in Darfur to “listen to the voice of wisdom” and join the Darfur peace process.

A similar call was echoed by Qutbi al-Mahdi, the head of the political sector of the ruling National Congress Party, who reiterated his government’s rejection to enter into new negotiations with rebel groups.

Qutbi said that the killing of Khalil means the obituary of the rebellion in Darfur, describing JEM as a “moribund” group after his death. The ruling party official called on the remaining elements of Khalil to join the Doha peace agreement.

Likewise, the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) led by Sudan’s former Prime Minister Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi issued a statement mourning the death of Khalil and appealed to all Darfur rebels to renounce arms and join the national struggle for a new system that responds to the just demands of Darfur region.

Despite government’s apparent complacence after Khalil’s death, analysts say that his killing may make total peace even harder to reach. They say that his killing could reignites fighting in the region and stymie efforts to implement Doha peace deal.