October 27, 2009 / 7:05 PM / 10 years ago

Darfur rebel group rejects AU panel report

* Darfur rebel group rejects AU report

* Says serious crimes must be tried in The Hague

* 10 killed in tribal clashes, say peacekeepers

(Adds tribal clashes)

By Opheera McDoom

KHARTOUM, Oct 27 (Reuters) - A major rebel group on Tuesday rejected an African Union report on solving the six-year conflict in Darfur.

The report by a panel of African "wise men", headed by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, recommended the establishment of a special court, including foreign judges, to try those charged with atrocities in Darfur.

The Justice and Equality Movement, the most powerful rebel group in Darfur, said serious crimes committed there should be tried by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

"The report is not clear in what they are saying about the ICC," said JEM spokesman Ahmed Adam. "Concerning the serious crimes in Darfur, including genocide, the only legal mechanism ... is the ICC. "

The ICC in March issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, saying he was wanted for war crimes in Darfur.

The AU report did not go into the question of Bashir’s arrest warrant, saying only that the ICC investigations should be discussed during peace talks on Darfur.

Khartoum is saving its reaction for discussions at an AU meeting in Nigeria on Thursday, attended by Vice-President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha.

But a government source told Reuters the initial feeling was one of "cautious welcome but with reservations on some details."

Sudanese rights activist Faysal el-Bagir said the panel compromised too much.

"It’s not a real solution and it’s not going to get the trust of the Darfuri people," he told Reuters. "Mbeki has failed to represent the views of the Darfuri opposition — he leans more to the government side."

Mostly non-Arab rebels revolted in 2003, accusing Khartoum of neglecting Darfur. A counter-insurgency campaign drove more than 2 million from their homes. The United Nations says 300,000 people died, but Khartoum rejects that figure.

Some Sudanese commentators urged the government to accept the report.

"There is nothing wrong in starting a new course that might succeed in drawing a road map that is more realistic and more tied to what is happening on the ground," said Mahjoub Mohamed Saleh, editor of the independent al-Ayyam daily.

The opposition Umma Party said the panel found a good compromise between international and national justice.

"(The panel) did their best to reach a solution which should be acceptable inside and outside Sudan," Umma Party Vice President Fadlalla Burma Nasir said.

Fierce fighting in the early days of the conflict has declined, replaced in many areas by a free-for-all involving bandits, rebel splinter groups and rival tribes.

Darfur’s joint U.N./AU UNAMID peacekeepers said 10 members of the Birgid tribe were killed and 12 injured in clashes with the Zaghawa ethnic group near the Shangil Tobaya area of North Darfur on Monday.

"The triggering factor was rivalry over water," said UNAMID communications chief Kemal Saiki.

(Additional reporting by Andrew Heavens; editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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