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Darfur: Rebels Must Unite & Reach Lasting Solution

Rebel groups must unite to reach lasting solution for Darfur - UN military official

12 August 2008 - Darfur's splintered rebel movements must unite at the negotiating table if there is to be a lasting solution to the conflict in the Sudanese region, the military chief of the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) said today.

General Martin Luther Agwai, the Force Commander of UNAMID, told reporters in New York that the international community needs to put as much pressure on the rebels as it has on the Government, with which they have been fighting since 2003, to end the conflict.

"I want to say it again and again - that it takes two to tango," Gen. Agwai said. "Let's not put too much searchlight on one party; let's also put enough searchlight on the other party."

Gen. Agwai noted that four rebel groups took part in talks preceding the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement in Abuja, Nigeria, in 2006, and yet now they have fractured into around 30 groups on the ground, nearly all of them without cohesive command and control.

"I am not in any way saying that the Government is clean. But what I am saying is that also the other side cannot be said to be saints. So my appeal is that the pressure, especially now that we have a joint mediator, should be exerted on both sides.

The Force Commander said too many of the rebel groups had shown no interest in negotiations.

"They will have to end on the negotiation table because militarily it's clear no side will win the war in Darfur."

As many as 300,000 people are estimated to have died over the past five years in Darfur, either through direct combat or disease, malnutrition and reduced life expectancy. Another 2.7 million people have had to flee their homes.

In his press conference, Gen. Agwai also urged the international community to provide the mission with the requisite troops and equipment - particularly helicopters - to carry out its mandate.

UNAMID is supposed to have 26,000 troops and police officers at full deployment, but currently has only about 10,000 in place.


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