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Six envoys call on Sudan and Chad to exercise restraint

May 28, 2009 (PARIS) – Six international powers represented in Doha by their envoys to Sudan, called Wednesday for both Sudan and Chad to exercise restraint after the breach of the non-aggression agreement signed this month, the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday.

The six diplomats from China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, now labeled the “E6 Envoys,” were hosted by Qatar, which is playing a leading role in mediation between the Darfur rebel movements warring with the Government of Sudan.

Sudan and Chad had signed an agreement on May 3 to normalize their tense relations – the fourth such agreement after deals signed in Tripoli, Riyadh and Dakar – and armoured columns of fighters entered Chadian territory from Sudan two days later.

Yesterday the six envoys "recognized the negative impact on the Darfur political process of the current escalation of tension between Sudan and Chad, recalled the 3 May Agreement, regretted that it was breached, and called on the Governments of both countries to exercise restraint," said the French Foreign Ministry.

Fighting in eastern Chad deescalated after the defeat of the invasion, but subsequently Chadian air forces and the rebel Justice and Equality Movement struck into Darfur.

Nonetheless, the envoys pointed to the nominal resumption of dialogue between the Government of Sudan (GOS) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), which since the February 17th Agreement signed in Doha had soured to talks as Sudanese courts issued death sentences for dozens of imprisoned rebels. The JEM relented to send a delegation to Doha earlier this month when escorted en route by US Special Envoy Scott Gration.

France’s statement today disclosed that the envoys “jointly urged both parties [JEM and GOS] to demonstrate their commitment to a peaceful future for the people of Darfur by showing maximum flexibility to resolve current areas of disagreement. They particularly underlined the need for continued efforts to address humanitarian needs in Darfur and other parts of Sudan.”

Other areas of common ground include “strong support” for the AU/UN led political process for Darfur led by Joint Chief Mediator Djibril Bassole and the State of Qatar, as well as commitment to involving input from Darfuri civil society.

A large civil society conference for Darfuri, financed by the foundation of British billionaire Mo Ibrahim, was recently cancelled in Addis Ababa; organizers faulted the Government of Sudan for refusing to allow participants exit visas to take part in the event.

“E6 Envoys unanimously recognized the necessity to rapidly move towards a Cessation of Hostilities and final agreement for Darfur. Taking into account the timetable set out in the CPA they jointly expressed concern that the stability of Sudan and the region could be undermined by the continued lack of a final settlement for Darfur. They reiterated their commitment to facilitate the process in any way possible and agreed to meet as necessary in support of this,” stated the Foreign Ministry.

(ST)