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Sudan Tribune

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Darfur envoys show cautious optimism over peace talks

January 19, 2008 (KHARTOUM) — In spite of the meager outcome of their fist joint visit to Sudan since the failure of Sirte peace talks last October, Darfur special envoys expressed cautious optimism over efforts to resume the peace process.

Khartoum_January_19_2008.jpgUN special envoy for Darfur Jan Eliasson and his AU counterpart, Salim Ahmed salim, told a press conference held in Khartoum on Saturday that they felt optimism following the meeting they held in Darfur, Juba and Khartoum.

Salim justified his optimism by the results of meetings with the leaders Darfur rebel groups, that have now merged into five distinct groups after years of fragmentation, as well as with Sudanese Foreign Minister Deng Alor and presidential advisor Nafie Ali Nafie.

Salim said the talks and the language used has given them a hope in the success of the peace process for the Darfur. He further added that pre-negotiation consultations meeting among the rebel groups to unify their positions might take place before the peace talks.

With regard to the demand of some rebel movement to move the talks from Libya Salim said that Libya was only hosting the talks and that people should concentrate on the outcome of the talks rather than the venues.

UN envoy called for convening substantive talks, saying Darfur IDPs are suffering from the conflict. Eliasson added that as all the parties had expressed commitment for a political solution to the five year crisis, it is time for them to take concrete measures and translate their will into action.

He said two of the five main rebel groups that they met during the one-week visit had agreed to attend within six weeks a meeting to unify their position ahead of talks.

SLM-Unity led by Abdella Yahya and the United Resistance Front (URF) agreed to take part in Sirte peace talks, Abdelshafi in a meeting held in Juba declined the invitation. Further, the influential Abdelwahid al-Nur and the leader of the biggest military movement, Khalil Ibrahim have their conditions to participate in the political process.

Al-Nur has three conditions called “conflict suspension” and Ibrahim wants the mediator to sign a protocol with him on the organisation of the process and who will take part in it.

International experts estimate some 200,000 have died and 2.5 million have been forced from their homes in the five years of revolt in Darfur, which borders Chad.