Two rebel groups in Sudan
join forces

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

CAIRO Two leading Sudanese rebel groups have merged.

The Sudan Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement have announced a merger. The two groups have led the rebellion in the western province of Darfour.

On Jan. 20, the two groups released a statement that the merger would include military forces, Middle East Newsline reported. The statement did not rule out the prospect of the continuation of the rebellion in Darfour.

"The two movements have agreed to join and coordinate all political, military and social forces, their international relations and to double their combat capacity in a collective body under the name, the Alliance of Revolutionary Forces of West Sudan," the two groups said in a joint statement. "This union will strengthen the solidarity, cohesion and unity of the people of Sudan in general and that of the west in particular."

The African Union, which has sought to end the war in Darfour, said it was not officially informed of the merger. About 7,800 AU troops have been deployed in Darfour in an unsuccessful effort to impose order in the province.

The merger came amid a Sudanese military offensive in rebel-held areas in the east. Military units as well as the Janjaweed militia were reported to have resumed attacks against villages and towns under rebel influence or control.

On Sunday, Sudanese President Omar Bashir called on the international community to donate additional equipment for the AU force in Darfour. The AU has warned that without significant help, the force might end its peace-keeping mission in March.

"We call upon the international community to offer adequate support to the African forces that have been relentlessly trying to reconstruct peace and supply them with the necessary means of mobility, transport, surveillance and provisions," Bashir said in Khartoum, where the AU summit was taking place.

Copyright 2006 East West Services, Inc.

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