Former fighters from eastern Sudan on Saturday said they had suspended their own leader, accusing him of splitting their political party along tribal lines.
The move raised the spectre of renewed instability in Sudan's impoverished yet resource-rich east and came days after warnings that the eastern fighters might return to war unless they received funding and training promised by a peace deal.
That agreement ended a decade of low-level revolt in a region that is home to Sudan's largest gold mine, its main port and major oil pipeline.
The eastern conflict has been overshadowed by Sudan's more high-profile conflicts between its north and south and more recently in the western region of Darfur.
Amna Dirar, a senior member of the Eastern Front that includes members of the non-Arab Beja tribe and Arab Rashaidiya tribe, said a group of party officials and military chiefs suspended the membership of chairman Musa Mohammed Ahmed at a meeting on Friday.
Ahmed, who did not attend the meeting, was not immediately available for comment.
Dirar said they made the decision after Ahmed organised a separate conference for the Beja Congress, an organisation predominantly representing the Beja tribe.
"He is considering himself the leader of two political parties (the Eastern Front and the Beja Congress)," said Dirar.
"This is not acceptable ... The Eastern Front was formed to represent all the people of the east, whatever their ethnic group. He has split us."
She accused Ahmed of trying to concentrate power in the Beja Congress and using the conference to form policies that would then be pushed through the coalition Eastern Front party.
The Front joined a national coalition government after a peace deal in 2006 that saw Dirar appointed as a presidential adviser and Ahmed as a presidential assistant.
Dirar said she had taken over as head of the Eastern Front until the matter could be discussed at another party meeting.
"We have frozen his membership ... What happens next is up to him," she said, referring to Ahmed.
"The Eastern Front will continue with members of the Beja Congress and work as one party. Up to now we have not had a meeting as the Eastern Front to agree on our activities. We don't have a strategy, no clear objectives."
There have been growing signs of Sudan's political parties regrouping ahead of national elections promised for 2009.
Dirar last week warned that easterners might be driven to fight again if Khartoum failed to deliver a promised $600 million development package and re-train eastern soldiers.
Last Mod: 16 Ağustos 2008, 17:10