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Darfur: UN envoy vows to build momentum in peace process

12 December 2007 The United Nations Special Envoy for the Darfur peace process says UN and African Union mediators will try to speed up the momentum of the talks in the next few weeks so that direct negotiations can take place between the Sudanese Government and the war-wracked region’s many rebel movements.

Jan Eliasson told reporters yesterday in Khartoum, after several days of talks and consultations in the Sudanese capital and other locations in the region with the Government, the movements and neighbouring countries, that the recent round of meetings has given the mediators extra energy to push towards a successful conclusion.

But he warned that “the negotiations do not exist in a vacuum. We also have to take into account the reality on the ground – the political reality that is also complicating our work.”

The consultations involving Mr. Eliasson and other UN and AU officials are the latest efforts of the two organizations to broker a comprehensive 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 situation has been complicated by the splintering of the rebel movements into more than a dozen separate factions and an increase in inter-tribal fighting.

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), but 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 have warned.

Mr. Eliasson said today that for the peace process to work, “I have come to the conclusion that we have to have the right developments on four different levels: the Security Council; the regional countries; the Government of Sudan and the movements. All four have to pull in the same direction. If we have a situation where one of these four circles is not pulling in the same direction, we do not seem to get peace.”

Direct negotiations between the Government and the movements are supposed to form the third phase of a three-part process that began with talks between the two sides in Sirte, Libya, in late October.

He noted that the improved climate in the Security Council and the growing cooperation of the regional countries means that the crucial issue has become whether the Government and the movements will head in the same directions on talks.

“We will do our very best to bring that about, but the environment in some regards is not conducive, and I hope that the Government of Sudan and the movements will take the responsibility to prepare for the talks to begin as soon as possible in the New Year.”



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