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SUDAN-CHAD: Latest peace pact tries to revive past failures

DAKAR, 14 March 2008 (IRIN) - After hours of wrangling over the text of their sixth peace accord in two years, Chadian President Idriss Deby and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir signed the latest agreement late on 13 March in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, vowing once again to stop providing support to rebel groups opposing the other.

The stated aim of the accord is "to put an end, once and for all, to disputes between the two countries and re-establish peace in the sub-region."

The accord was mediated by Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade and signed during the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) summit in the presence of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and an array of African leaders and Arab and western diplomats.

Past agreements also called on both sides to stop providing safe haven to rebel groups. In Chad, rebels bent on ousting President Deby have launched countless attacks including one in February which reached the capital N'djamena. In Sudan, rebels are fighting government forces and allied militias in Darfur the region bordering Chad.

A new element in the latest accord is that Chad and Sudan agree to a "contact group" led by Libya and the Republic of Congo which would meet monthly and monitor compliance.

For Roland Marchal, a Chadian specialist at Sciences Po University in Paris, the international community needs to take more radical action for the situation in the region to change. He also said that peace in the region requires a resolution of each country's internal conflicts.

"[In Chad] If there is no political initiative to get [all sides] around a table, then it is very doubtful that the opposition will simply endorse a deal made by other [outside] actors," Marchal said.

Chadian rebels have already dismissed the new peace pact and vowed to pursue their campaign to overthrow President Deby unless he agreed to a dialogue, according to reports.

Yet the sultan of the Fur, the largest ethnic group in Darfur, was optimistic about the new agreement. "I am hopeful that Sudan and Chad will stop supporting each other's rebels and this will reduce tensions," Sultan Salah Eldine Mahamat Fadoul told IRIN in an exclusive interview while visiting Dakar for the OIC meeting.

"I think Chad and Sudan really need to calm the situation down. The [proxy] war between them has cost them both a lot," he said.

The sultan's religious advisor voiced concern that the meeting between Deby and al-Bashir would not have any impact on people in the region. "They are not at all addressing the situation in a wider context," the Islamic advisor, Deputy-Iman Allami Mahmoud Ousmane, told IRIN. "It's not about ending human suffering in both countries."

Estimates of the number of people killed a direct and indirect consequence of fighting in Darfur and eastern Chad run as high as 400,000 with some 2.7 million people displaced.


Theme(s): (IRIN) Conflict, (IRIN) Early Warning, (IRIN) Governance, (IRIN) Refugees/IDPs



Copyright © IRIN 2008
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States.
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