Peace negotiations started in El Geneina on Thursday between the government of West Darfur State and the Reform and Liberation Movement, a group derived from breakaway elements of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) in the Jebel Moon area. Jebel Moon was a stronghold of JEM until it fell to government forces in May 2010.Ja’afar Abdul Hakam, the governor of West Darfur, announced the start of negotiations, according to the state news agency in Khartoum. He affirmed the sincerity of the government negotiating party, headed by the Deputy Governor Abul Gasim Al Amin Baraka. He said that his government was authorized to reach an agreement with the rebel movement that would lead to stability in the region.
The Reform and Liberation Movement was formed in July this year in the state capital of West Darfur when a group called SLA-FREES merged with the Justice and Reform Movement (JRM). The JRM consists of fighters native to the mountain area who remained behind when JEM forces withdrew. The SLA-FREES may have fallen afoul of JEM before the May fighting, and reportedly forged an alliance with the government in El Geneina, according to a report by the Small Arms Survey.