Beshir Vows to Defeat Rebels First, Then Negotiate
Sudanese President Omar Al Beshir has vowed that his government would conquer his country's rebels before undertaking any negotiations, press reports said Friday.
"There will be no negotiation with the rebels before defeating them on the battlefield, only then will be they resigned to reconciliation," Beshir was quoted as telling a military rally in Nyala, capital of South Darfur state in western Sudan.
"The rebels recognize nothing other than force and we will therefore speak to them through the muzzle of the gun," Beshir told the rally for 12,000 Popular Defense militia men who had just finished their combat training in South Darfur.
Beshir's fiery words came days before Khartoum welcomes the November 23-24 summit of heads of state in the regional Intergovernmental Development Authority (IGAD), which has sponsored previous peace talks between the Sudanese government and the rebel Sudanese Peoples' Liberation Army (SPLA).
Beshir strongly dismissed a rumor that his government was planning to dissolve the Popular Defense militia, deriding the gossip mongers as "defeatists, fifth columnists and new recruits of (SPLA leader John) Garang."
"Those people want to belittle the victories of the armed forces, the muhajadeen and the blood of the martyrs that has watered Hameshkorib, Rasai and Kassala," he said, referring to recent clashes.
Beshir said his government "will go on with the jihad and with the militarization of the people."
Repeating his call for jihad, or holy war, against Israel made at the recent Islamic summit in Doha, Beshir told his audience that the battles being fought by his army and the Popular Defense in eastern and southern Sudan were "only exercises for the major battle in Palestine."
Successive Sudanese governments in Khartoum and rebel forces have fought a civil war for the past 17 years largely seen as pitting the Muslim and Arab north against the Christian and animist south.
Since 1995, northern opposition forces have joined with the southern SPLA rebels -- KHARTOUM (AFP)
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