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News Articles Another Darfur Ceasefire Henji Milius Nov 21, 2008 Sudanese leader Hassan al-Bashir calls for another ceasefire, while fighting continues between rebel factions Since the war in Darfur erupted in 2003, the United Nations reported that over 200,000 Darfurians were killed and 2.5 million people have been displaced in the western part of the region. Sudan authorities as well as so-called Janjaweeds (“devils on horseback“) have suppressed, threatened and raped residents who fled their villages to seek asylum. Further, current Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir took power over Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi as a colonel in the Sudanese army back in 1989. In Khartoum, Bashir recently called for a ceasefire – after talks were held in the Sudan People’s Initiative forum – demanding peace, order and stability. The China Daily reported that the Arab league was instrumental in pushing a plan that would engage talks between some rebels and the Sudanese government to achieve an agreement. The release of political prisoners and reparation for the thousands of people displaced due to the conflict were requested as well. “I hereby announce our immediate unconditional ceasefire between the armed forces and the warring factions, provided that an effective monitoring mechanism is put into action and observed by all involved parties,” said Bashir on Wednesday, November 12. To make the ceasefire effective, Bashir told the press that his government would “set up an immediate campaign to disarm the militias and restrict the use of weapons among armed forces.” During that meeting, ministers and opposition leaders came together, but without the presence of two major rebel groups, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Army (SLM). Taher al-Faki, a London-based spokesman for JEM told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that “It is not new that Bashir announces a ceasefire. … This has been done time and time again.” Further, Faki also mentioned that his rebel faction “would only go for a ceasefire when there is a framework agreement and declaration of principles so we are not interested in what Bashir is saying. It is rhetoric and propaganda.” French Foreign Ministry spokesman Eric Chevalier stated to Reuters, “What we expect from the Sudanese authorities is an immediate and radical change of attitude on several points … and this ceasefire declaration does not represent such a change.” Whereas at a gathering with Sudanese presidential envoy Addul Rahim Hussein in Moscow, Russian News reported that Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov agreed with Bashir’s move saying, “We hail this decision. We believe that this step will provide for the swift resumption of negotiations.” As for China, David Blair reported to the Telegraph that “China is a close ally of Sudan. Beijing gets about ten percent of its imported oil from Sudan and has invested billions in the country’s energy reserves.” Hence, Sudan is a liability to China on the financial aspect as well as the political. In other words, China will side and agree with Sudan as long as it is getting something tangible, like money and oil. Moreover, Bashir has been indicted for perpetrating three counts of genocide, five crimes against humanity and two for war crimes in Darfur by Louis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC may indict Bashir and make him culpable for his misdeeds. If that is the case, his political career may perish and his sudden call for Darfur’s ceasefire may never happen. Despite the long forum – with more than 200 people involved in the discussion, 30 active political parties reunited to solve this issue and make sincere political choices for many Darfurians – it is still not clear where Bashir’s motivation comes from.