(Estelle Shirbon) today says a rebel leader from Darfur has rebuffed the latest proposals from AU mediators for him to join a peace deal despite intense pressure by diplomats desperate to gain wider support for the accord. Excerpt:
Abdel Wahed Mohammed al-Nur of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) refused the peace settlement signed on May 5 by the Sudanese government and rival SLA factional leader Minni Arcua Minnawi to end a conflict that has killed tens of thousands.
Nur says he will sign the peace deal, but only if first the government accepts some of his key demands in an annex accord.
The demands include greater compensation from Khartoum for Darfur war victims and greater SLA involvement in monitoring the disarmament of the Janjaweed and the return home of refugees.
"At this stage we are not signing because we get nothing, but we are trying to push the government to make some concessions ... If the government accepts and signs, then Abdel Wahed will sign," said close adviser Ibrahim Madibo on Sunday.
Note, the report explains this looks unlikely to happen before a meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council in Ethiopia on Monday that is considered a deadline to add new signatures to the deal:
Early on Sunday, senior AU mediators who had been focusing full-time on Nur since May 5 left the Nigerian capital Abuja, venue of the peace talks that led to the accord.
But in a sign that intense efforts to gain Nur's acceptance would continue until the last minute, one of the mediators was called back into town as he was about to check into his flight to leave Nigeria. "I am here for another day," he said.
The mediators had argued that Nur should sign first and negotiate with the government later. They say the agreement cannot be renegotiated as two parties have signed it, but there is room for extra concessions during the implementation phase.
"Our fear is that if he signs, the government will not give anything afterwards," Madibo told Reuters.
This has made the last week of discussions involving Nur, Minnawi, Khartoum and international diplomats very delicate.