Khartoum- Sudan (PANA) -- The Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), one of the two rebel groups in the country's troubled Darfur region, has asked for postponement of the African Union-brokered peace talks scheduled to resume in the Nigerian capital Abuja 15 September.
"The movement officially affirms that it will not go to the negotiations before convening its general conference," the rebel group said in statement Tuesday.
The SLM and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) have been fighting the Khartoum government in Darfur since February 2003 and the three are involved in the AU-brokered peace talks in Abuja.
But according to analysts, there appears to be serious internal rift within the SLM, between its President Abdelwahid Nour, and Secretary General Arko Mennawi, While Nour is said to favour resumption of the peace talks, Mennawi and some senior leaders prefer a conference of the movement to be held first to re-elect its leadership.
Meanwhile, Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail has been quoted as saying the SLM would "commit a very big mistake" if it did not attend the Abuja talks.
The Minister, who is in Cairo, Egypt for Thursday's Arab League meeting, said the Khartoum government had mandated its negotiators to conclude an agreement with the rebels.
Former Organisation of African Unity (OAU) Secretary General Salim Ahmed Salim, is the AU chief mediator of the Abuja peace talks, seeking to end the conflict that has killed some 180,000 people and displaced more than two million in Darfur.
The AU has some 5,500 troops and civilian police monitoring a fragile ceasefire, which has been broken several times by the warring signatory parties.