Nigerian Boko Haram rules out talks
21 March 2012, 10:35
Nigeria - A purported spokesperson for Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram said on Tuesday the group had "closed all possible doors of negotiation" with a government of "unbelievers" that it cannot trust, and called on Muslims to join the fight against it.
The statement to local journalists in the sect's heartland of Maiduguri came two days after a Muslim cleric brokering initial peace talks pulled out, dimming hopes of a negotiated end to the insurgency.
"Almighty God has told us repeatedly that the unbelievers will never respect the promises they made. As such, henceforth, we will never respect any proposal for dialogue," Abu Qaqa, a shadowy figure who frequently communicates with journalists on the sect's behalf, said by phone in the northern Hausa language.
The departure of Datti Ahmed, a former ally of Boko Haram's founder, could be a major blow for talks which were only in their early stages, although some security sources doubt peace talks are possible with a sect so fragmented and radicalised.
The talks were aimed at ending months of bomb and gun attacks by Boko Haram that killed hundreds, mostly in the majority Muslim north, and have at times dominated Goodluck Jonathan's presidency.
The group has said it wants to impose Islamic sharia law across a country split equally between Christians and Muslims.
"We are certain we will dismantle this government and establish Islamic government in Nigeria," Abu Qaqa said. "There is no doubt in our minds we will emerge victorious. We are calling on all Muslims in this part of the world to accept the clarion call and fight for the restoration of the Caliphate."
Political and diplomatic sources told Reuters last week that people close to Boko Haram had been carrying messages back and forth between the sect's self-proclaimed leader Abubakar Shekau and government officials.
Three days later, Datti pulled out, saying he could not trust the government after information about the talks was leaked.