Sudan Rebels Tell War Stories Over Sheep Feast

by
staphni
"(CNN)
Laughter and the smells of cooking around a campfire are offset by military fatigues and automatic weapons as rebels try to relax during a ceasefire in one of Africa's bitter conflicts. The men remember why they took up arms against the Sudanese government while keeping their ambitions of a peaceful future in check.

One man jokes: ""We will kill President Omar Al Bashir."" Wood smoke drifts along with the laughter around the morning fire. By the time the sun is setting, hundreds of armed rebels have formed a guard of honor as we drive across North Darfur's desert to meet them.

In reality, these men say they are actually banking on peace. They are the Liberation and Justice Movement -- a recently-formed alliance of 18 rebel groups in Sudan's Darfur region. While their leaders thrash out terms of an agreement with Sudan's government, headed up by President Al Bashir in talks hosted in Doha, the rebels wait, and hope.

""The ceasefire is actually a very tough and hungry time for the fighters"", said General Ali Mukhtar - the irony not lost on him. ""When the conflict is going on we capture from the government material that we need like food and fuel. But during the ceasefire there is no food for the soldiers.""

They do however make an effort for guests. Within a couple of hours of our arrival someone is sent to fetch a sheep, which is expertly slaughtered and roasted over a fire. Darfurian hospitality means we eat even before the general.

Just a few dozen meters away between the trees, our car is parked in Chad, as we eat our lamb in Sudan's Western region of Darfur. Despite the closeness, smuggling across supplies of food and gas is not an easy task. A cat and mouse game with Chadian border patrols and the odd Sudanese military vehicle mean it can take all day."