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Darfur: UN Envoy to Sudan for Talks

Darfur: UN Envoy Heads to Sudan for Talks With All Sides to Conflict

New York, Dec 4 2007 5:00PM

The United Nations Special Envoy for Darfur heads to Sudan tomorrow for talks with all sides to the four-year conflict as the UN and the African Union continue their joint mediation efforts to expedite preparations for direct negotiations between the Sudanese Government and rebel movements.

Jan Eliasson is due to arrive in Khartoum to start several days of consultations in the capital, as well as in Darfur itself and in the southern Sudanese town of Juba, where some of the rebel movements are based.

The consultations represent the latest step in the efforts of the UN and AU to broker a peace accord to quell the violence and humanitarian suffering in Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have been killed and at least 2.2 million others displaced since rebels began fighting Government forces and allied militia known as the Janjaweed in 2003.

The UN and AU are deploying a hybrid peacekeeping mission (known as UNAMID) to Darfur at the start of next year to take over from the existing but under-resourced AU mission (AMIS). However, objections and obstacles raised by the Sudanese Government and a lack of offers for critical force units have left the deployment in jeopardy, senior UN officials warned last week.

Today Mr. Eliasson and AU envoy Salim Ahmed Salim have been in the Egyptian town of Sharm el-Sheikh for talks with representatives of Chad, Egypt, Eritrea and Libya, the regional partners to the peace process.

The two envoys briefed the four countries on the latest developments in the three-part peace process, which began in late October with formal talks in Sirte, Libya, and then moved into a second phase last month with consultations and meetings with some of Darfur’s various and often splintered movements.

The third phase aims to bring the movements together with the Government for full talks on the key issues, including power-sharing, wealth-sharing, the humanitarian situation and security conditions.

While in Sharm el-Sheikh, Mr. Eliasson told UN Radio that he “cannot hide that we are in a difficult situation,” adding that “we are seeing certain negative developments in the level of violence both inside Darfur, but above all in [neighbouring eastern] Chad.”

Mr. Eliasson also stressed that the Government and the movements must do all in their power to facilitate a political process leading to a resolution of the deadly conflict.

Meanwhile, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sudan, Ashraf Qazi, is heading to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to represent the UN at a ministerial-level meeting tomorrow on Sudan.

The meeting, convened by United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, is being held to discuss the implementation of the January 2005 comprehensive peace agreement that ended the long-running north-south civil war in Sudan.

The parties to the agreement – the Sudanese Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) – are expected to attend, as well as representatives of the UN, the AU and regional partners to that peace process.

ENDS

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