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Peace agreement for Darfur within reach, UN told

Peace agreement for Darfur within reach, UN Security Council told

Though the parties to the conflict in Darfur, Sudan – which has already cost nearly 200,000 lives, mainly civilians – have not yet compromised on key issues, a peace agreement is within reach by the 30 April deadline set by the African Union (AU), the chief mediator from that organization told the United Nations Security Council today, urging support for the AU mission in the country.

“We are working full steam to meet this deadline,” Salim Ahmed Salim, the AU special envoy and chief mediator for the inter-Sudanese talks in Abuja, Nigeria, said in his first Council briefing since January, when he said talks between the Government and rebel movements were proceeding at an “agonizing slow pace.”

“As we enter the home stretch of this marathon negotiating session,” he cautioned, however, “the anxieties of the Parties are understandably intensifying.” Concessions still need to be made on the sharing of wealth and power, security arrangements and other issues, he said.

The security arrangements will make or break the negotiations, he said, underscoring the complexity of both an immediate ceasefire and long-term final status arrangements. “Darfur is home to a myriad of armed and dangerous militia, included the Janjaweed, the armed movements that are fragmenting, bandits of sorts, foreign combatants and tribal forces,” he observed.

The mediation team, he said, had made proposals on the disengagement of forces, disarmament of the Janjaweed, the control and neutralization of militias, protection of displaced persons, security of nomadic migration corridors and the demilitarization of humanitarian supply routes.

The proposed “Enhanced Ceasefire Agreement” stipulates that the neutralization of the Janjaweed and “undisciplined militia” is a prerequisite for any peace agreement, he said.

As this, and all such steps, will have to be monitored by the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS), he stressed that it was crucial to follow up any peace agreement, once signed, with maximum support to those forces, which are not even adequate to fulfil their current mandate.

“My plea to you in this esteemed Council, is that you do not wait for the transition to take place from AMIS to a UN Force before strengthening the implementation mechanism of any agreement to be reached in Abuja,” he said.

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