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Pressure on Darfur Rebels Ahead of Talks

The United Nations is pressuring Darfur rebel groups to reconsider their participation in peace talks slated for this Saturday in Libya.
At least five Darfur rebel groups have said they will boycott the meeting.
Jan Eliasson, the U.N. special envoy to Darfur, said he hoped as many rebel leaders as possible would take part in Saturday’s talks, despite signals from some that they would not attend.
“We may have a very dangerous development if we miss this opportunity,” Eliasson said. He called this “a moment of hope” for Darfur.
More than a dozen armed rebel groups are in Darfur, fighting not only the government in Khartoum but also one another.
They have been unable to reach sufficient common ground to face Sudanese officials in Libya.
The Sudan Liberation Movement has threatened to boycott the talks until a U.N. force is deployed in the area and pro-government groups are disarmed. They say they were not consulted about the venue of the talks and claim a more neutral country should have been chosen to host the meetings.
The peace talks aim to bring an end to the four-year conflict in the western Sudanese province.
Rebels took up arms against the central government in early 2003 to protest what they said was years of discrimination. The government is said to have unleashed armed groups called the Janjaweed to counter the rebels. The government denies these claims.
More than 200,000 people have been killed and more than 2.2 million displaced since the conflict began.