Two of Darfur's main rebel groups said today they will not attend peace talks scheduled to start in Libya tomorrow, dealing a significant blow to hopes for a quick end to the nation's civil war, Reuters reports. The UN-sponsored talks are still expected to go on with several other rebel groups in attendance, but the main groups' withdrawal is a "very serious setback," says one analyst.
The main groups said they dropped out because "genuine parties that should be part of the peace process" were not invited. With diplomacy unraveling before the talks even begin, the US has threatened sanctions against the government and rebels alike. "They don't have a free ticket or a free ride," said one official. International observers say 200,000 have been killed since the uprising began in 2003.