KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan will appoint a vice president from the war-battered western Darfur region, state media said Tuesday, in a possible move toward meeting the demands of rebels there who complain of being marginalized.
Violence in Darfur, where mostly non-Arab rebels are fighting government troops backed by largely Arab militias, has fallen from its peak in 2003 and 2004 but a surge in attacks since December has forced tens of thousands to flee.
Qatar has been hosting Darfur peace talks but progress has been hampered by rebel divisions and continued military operations, as Khartoum has gradually reasserted control over towns and other previously rebel-held areas.
â€œThe government has agreed on appointment of a Vice-President from Darfur to complete the current election session,â€ the state news agency SUNA said.
An official with one of the main rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) led by Paris-based Abdel Wahed Mohamed al-Nur, said the appointment did not go far enough.
â€œThe war is not about the vice president of Sudan,â€ Ibrahim al-Helwu, said. â€œThe war is about equality for all Sudanese.â€
Darfur is just one of several flashpoints as Sudanâ€™s south prepares to secede on July 9 — a move analysts say could embolden rebels elsewhere.
A woman washes clothes with water provided by aid agencies at the Krinding Camp for internally displaced persons in El Geneina, capital of West Darfur, June 29, 2011.
REUTERS/ Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah
The United Nations says as many as 300,000 people have died during the conflict in Darfur. Khartoum puts the death toll at 10,000.
(Reporting by Alex Dziadosz; Editing by Matthew Jones)