News and Information

Sudan: Darfur Talks to Be Held in Abuja
August 9, 2004

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

August 9, 2004
Posted to the web August 9, 2004


Talks between the Sudanese government and the two rebel groups fighting Khartoum in the troubled western Darfur region will take place in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, on 23 August, the African Union (AU) said.

The talks, the AU said in a statement, would try to achieve a political settlement of the conflict in Darfur, which has, since last year, pitted the Sudanese government against two rebel groups - the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A).

Convened by the current AU chairman and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Abuja talks will follow-up an earlier meeting held in Addis Ababa from 15 to 17 July, at which the belligerents disagreed before they had started any substantive discussions.

The AU has, among other initiatives, proposed sending a peacekeeping force to Darfur. Currently, it has 120 observers in the region, supervising the implementation of a shaky ceasefire that was signed earlier in April between the Sudanese government and the rebel groups.

On Friday, Nigeria, said it was training 120 troops who could soon be deployed to Darfur, as part of the proposed 2,000-strong AU peacekeeping force.

Army spokesman, Col Emeka Onwuamaegbu, told IRIN in Abuja that the troops were only awaiting orders before they could move into Darfur. "We were ordered to prepare a company of soldiers, which is 120 troops for deployment to Sudan," Onwuamaegbu said.

"At the moment, the troops are having induction training and when we receive the order from the Ministry of Defence, they will be ready to move," he added.

Obasanjo held talks with the Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir, last week. Shortly after returning to Abuja, Obasanjo asked former Nigerian military ruler, Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar, to study the Darfur situation and recommend steps towards resolving the conflict.

A month ago, Obasanjo, had also asked the Nigerian Commander of the West African military mission in Liberia, Brig-Gen Festus Okonkwo, to assess the situation in Darfur.

Meanwhile, Arab League foreign ministers at an emergency meeting in Cairo have supported measures proposed by Sudan to disarm the militias and punish human rights violators in Darfur. They called on the UN to give Sudan more time to implement the measures and resolve the crisis.

In a resolution adopted on 30 July, the UN Security Council said it would consider measures - including economic sanctions - if the Sudanese government did not make progress on commitments to disarm the feared Janjawid militias and restore security in Darfur within 30 days.

Last week, the senior UN envoy to Sudan and the country's foreign minister signed an agreement committing Khartoum to take "detailed steps" in the next 30 days to disarm the Janjawid. The agreement between Jan Pronk, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Sudan, and Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail was approved by the Sudanese cabinet, Sudanese newspapers reported on Monday.

Pronk voiced hope that if the agreement was implemented, the Security Council would see that Khartoum was making "substantial progress" and decide not to take further action against Sudan, according to the spokesperson.

The JEM and SLM/A say they are fighting for greater recognition of their "marginalised region", which is mainly inhabited by black African. To fight the two groups, Khartoum reportedly armed Arab militia, known as the Janjawid, and deployed them in Darfur.

The Janjawid have however been accused of committing gross atrocities against civilians, creating a humanitarian catastrophe. The United Nations, which describes the current situation as "the worst humanitarian crisis", says over 1.2 million people have been displaced in Darfur. More than 180,000 have fled into neighbouring Chad


    Support Caprivi Freedom
Fill out the form below to become a member of this site and receive our regular newsletter.

First Name
Last Name