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UN urges Darfur parties to tackle key questions

UN Sudan envoy urges Darfur parties to tackle power, wealth and security questions

The top United Nations envoy to Sudan today called on the parties to the conflict in the Darfur region to discuss the distribution of power, wealth-sharing and security arrangements at peace talks aimed at reaching a settlement to their long-running conflict.

Jan Pronk made his comments in Abuja, Nigeria, where Salim Ahmed Salim of the African Union (AU) is mediating negotiations between the Government of Sudan, the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

The parties, which have begun to tackle substantive issues now that procedural arrangements are in place, should engage in the talks in "good faith and with tangible commitment to achieving a final peaceful settlement to the Darfur crisis," a spokesman for Mr. Pronk said.

The envoy called on the SML/A to unify its structures, leadership and agenda, and to stay at the table and deal with other issues, such as the holding of a general SML/A conference, once the current round of peace talks is completed.

The current round, which aims to cover power-sharing, wealth-sharing and security arrangements among Government forces, allied militias and rebels, will shut down during Ramadan in November.

Speaking to reporters last week in Khartoum, Mr. Pronk said that the international community will not look favourably at an extension of the peace talks into 2006.

In a separate development, on Sunday Mr. Pronk sent a letter to Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol expressing his concern over the disruption of a UN-sponsored colloquium on human rights in El-Geneina on 27 September, when six participating Sudanese lawyers were arrested by the National Security forces. Although they were later released, he protested the incident, including the confiscation of the UN agency's colloquium papers in contravention of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the UN.

"They do not have the right to enter our meetings," Mr. Pronk told the press on 28 September. "It is a United Nations meeting and that is completely in [keeping] with the general rules of the United Nations presence in a country."

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