African Union urges Darfur rebel group to join talks

The African Union renewed its call for the last Darfur rebel group refusing to negotiate to join the process ahead of crucial peace talks with Khartoum.

African Union urges Darfur rebel group to join talks
The African Union renewed its call for the last Darfur rebel group refusing to negotiate to join the process ahead of crucial peace talks with Khartoum.

Salim Ahmed Salim praised the efforts of Darfur's myriad rebel factions to unify their stance earlier this month at a meeting in Arusha, Tanzania.

He was peaking to reporters after a meeting at the pan-African body's Addis Ababa headquarters, the AU's top envoy to Sudan.

"We encourage those who are still reluctant ... to do the same," he said, in a clear reference to the faction led by Abdel Wahid Mohammed Nur.

Nur, who is exiled in Paris and was the main absent at the Arusha talks, is the founding father of the rebellion that erupted in Darfur in February 2003 although his military influence is dwindling.

His spokesman told AFP Monday that his faction would only take part in peace talks once the joint UN-AU peacekeeping force approved last month was fully deployed.

The 26,000 peacekeepers are not expected to be operational before the middle of 2008 but Salim and his UN counterpart Jan Eliasson have said that final settlement talks between Khartoum and the rebels could start within two months.

After the meeting on Darfur in Addis Ababa Tuesday, Sudan's ambassador to the AU Mohieddin Salem also urged Nur to join the process.

"Everyone should be on board on issues concerning the peace process in Darfur, we asked the (AU Peace and Security) Council to send strong messages to those opposing any talks," he said.

A peace deal was already signed once with the Sudanese government in Abuja in May 2006, but only one out of three negotiating factions endorsed the agreement, sparking deep divisions among rebels.

AFP
Last Mod: 15 Ağustos 2007, 10:23
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