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Analysis: Sudan's Ticking Time Bomb

Council on Foreign Relations

October 29, 2007
Prepared by: Lee Hudson Teslik, Stephanie Hanson

Analysts widely predicted a flop at October 27 Darfur peace talks in Libya, given that the country’s three main rebel groups announced ahead of time that they would not attend. By all accounts, a flop (Guardian) is what they got—but ongoing talks behind closed doors left uncertainty about whether some form of political deal might still be in the works. International negotiators attempted to stave off complete collapse by scrambling to give rebels more time to forge an agreement with the Sudanese government (BBC). Darfur's rebels accuse the government of violating the cease-fire it declared at the start of talks. The two parties met privately October 29 to set an agenda (Reuters) for moving peace talks forward, but the long-term outlook remains hazy.

Experts agree that lasting peace will only come to Darfur with a political settlement between the Sudanese government and Darfur’s rebel factions. But the road to such an agreement will be rocky. Darfur’s rebel groups have splintered since the last round of peace talks, as outlined in a recent Backgrounder on Darfur’s peace process. Nor is it even clear whether these groups actually represent the interests of Darfur’s people. A joint United Nations/African Union mediation team has made efforts to consult with non-rebel groups such as women, internally displaced persons, Arab tribes, and civil society organizations. Some analysts say these groups need to be represented at the negotiation table. But in an interview with, Jan Eliasson, the UN special envoy to Darfur and mediator of the talks, says he and fellow mediator Salim Ahmed Salim “cannot promise full participation at the negotiation table for all groups.” The peace efforts come against a backdrop of severe humanitarian problems, with ongoing violence reported against civilians and over a million displaced.

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Copyright 2007 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on with specific permission from the Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to

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