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Sudan cease-fire call gets wary reception in Darfur

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Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has proposed a unilateral cease-fire in the troubled Darfur region, including the disarming of progovernment militia blamed for five years of bloodshed that has displaced millions of villagers and drawn in foreign peacekeepers. Some rebel groups in the area immediately dismissed the proposal as an empty gesture. Several previous cease-fire proposals have failed to stem the fighting in Darfur.

Mr. Bashir faces a possible war-crimes indictment in the International Criminal Court (ICC). Wednesday's proposal appears aimed at persuading the United Nations not to pursue the indictment, as it could jeopardize any peace initiatives. The cease-fire in Darfur is part of a package of measures from a Qatari-backed initiative that rebel groups in Darfur have refused to join.

The BBC reports that the panel's recommendations are expected to pave the way for a peace conference in Qatar. But any conference is unlikely to succeed unless Darfur's various rebel groups can be brought into the process.

Last week, the JEM rejected Qatar's mediation and called for direct one-on-one talks with the Sudanese government, Reuters reported. But a member of the ruling National Congress Party rejected this proposal and said a comprehensive solution was needed that involved all parties, unlike in 2006, when only one Darfur rebel group signed onto a peace accord.

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