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Sudanese rebels tell world to 'wake up' to war
by John Irish
Reuters Translate This Article
7 November 2013
PARIS, (Reuters) - The main rebel alliance fighting Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir called on the world on Thursday to 'wake up' to the war, saying atrocities in Sudan were as bad as those in Syria.
Sudan has suffered decades of conflict. Fighting has intensified in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states since South Sudan won independence in 2011, while international efforts have failed to bring peace to the westerly region of Darfur.
Speaking in Paris on a rare lobbying visit to Europe, the president of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) accused Bashir of exploiting the world's preoccupation with wars such as those in Syria and Mali to try to crush the rebels and kill civilians through indiscriminate bombing and starvation.
'We are here to present our case. It is a cry to the international community to wake up and help end this war,' said Malik Agar, who was sacked by Khartoum as governor of Blue Nile and subsequently joined the SRF in 2011.
'The situation is getting worse because the government is not giving access to the region, the lack of food is being used as a weapon and the war is ongoing. We are fighting, but we are ready to stop if there is a lasting peace.'
Khartoum has always denied targeting civilians, saying it only bombs areas controlled by rebels. The government made no immediate response to the latest accusations.
Agar is in Paris at the start of a trip that will also include stops in Brussels, Norway and Germany. After splits and discord among the rebels, the SRF is trying to show unity and tap into general discontent with the government after street unrest following hikes in fuel prices.
The rebel group did not specify what international help it wanted in its fight to overthrow Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Darfur.
The SRF's delegation included leaders of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), who operate in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, and a major rebel group in Darfur, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).
All the rebels say they are fighting to end the dominance by wealthy Arab Khartoum elites of Sudan's rural areas.
'The crimes in Sudan are like Syria, but worse,' said Abdul Wahid Mohamed al Nur, one of the presidents of the Sudan Liberation Movement. 'Genocide is in Darfur, but elsewhere violence has increased as has the media blackout. It's no longer just Darfur but central Sudan and Blue Nile.'
Fighting grew in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states after adjacent South Sudan won independence in 2011 under a peace deal. In Darfur, mainly African tribes took up arms in 2003, accusing the Arab-led government of discrimination.
A French diplomatic source said the SRF delegation would be received at the foreign ministry, adding that listening to the rebels' views mattered all the more given the worsening situation in neighbouring Central African Republic, where Paris has troops and is pushing for a U.N. peacekeeping force.
(Editing by Matthew Tostevin)
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