SUDAN WATCH: AU presents enhanced ceasefire proposals for Darfur conflict

Sunday, March 12, 2006

AU presents enhanced ceasefire proposals for Darfur conflict

Today, the African Union presented comprehensive proposals for an enhanced humanitarian ceasefire agreement for parties involved in the Darfur conflict, reports Deutsche Presse-Agentur/mc - excerpt:
The enhanced ceasefire proposals urged all sides to 'bring bloodshed and suffering in the region to an immediate end.'

'Any of the parties to the conflict not prepared to sign the Enhanced Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement would be regarded as not interested in the peace and wellbeing of the people of Darfur,' Salim Ahmed Salim, AU Special Envoy and Chief Mediator at the Darfur conflict, said in Abuja on Sunday.

'Our proposals are fair, workable and in compliance with previous commitments entered into by the parties,' he noted.

The head of the AU mediation team, Sam Ibok, said that 'while we have been attempting to negotiate a peace agreement, the parties have continued to fight it out on the ground in Darfur.'

Humanitarian agencies in Darfur are reaching fewer people than they did when the first ceasefire agreement was signed in N'djamena, Chad, on April 8, 2004, he noted, terming the humanitarian situation 'catastrophic' and 'unacceptable'.

'Our experience over the past 16 months has led us to conclude that there is neither good faith nor commitment on the part of any of the parties. Our new proposals give the AU Mission in Sudan necessary powers to protect civilians and ensure that the ceasefire is respected,' Ibok said.

The Enhanced Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement focuses on the demilitarization of humanitarian supply routes and camps for displaced people. The AU contends that the routes and camps should be secured by peacekeepers and civilian police. All parties to the conflict should withdraw their forces to clearly identified areas, with buffer zones between them.

The AU Mission in Sudan currently has 7,000 soldiers in Darfur.

Meanwhile, the president of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement, Dr. Halil Ibrahim, arrived Saturday to attend Monday's talks as did the president of the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement and Army, Minni Minawi.

'Their presence is a sure indication that faster progress will be made at the talks,' Nourreddine Mezni, AU mediation team's spokesman, told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

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