"Those who don't sign, we will continue to appeal to them" - Obasanjo
Unless the right spirit, unless the right attitude and right disposition is there, this document isn't worth the paper it is signed on," said Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, a key figure in peacemaking efforts across Africa and host of the protracted Darfur talks. "Those who don't sign, we will continue to appeal to them. The window of opportunity must not be allowed to close."
Photo: Majzoub al-Khalifa, (R) head of the Sudanese government's negotiating team, and rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) faction leader Minni Arcua Minnawi (L) shake hands after signing the deal in the Nigerian capital Abuja May 5, 2006 (Reuters/ST).
Minni Minnawi's rival, Abdel Wahid Nur met with Obasanjo for hours Friday, delaying the signing ceremony, and then briefly went into the hall where the accord was to be signed.
He left, telling reporters the proposed accord was "a big disaster" because he believed it did not go far enough to guarantee disarmament of the Janjaweed militia linked to the atrocities. Nigerian security forces tried to stop Nur from speaking to reporters, then barred reporters who had followed him out from returning to witness the signing.
"The deteriorating situation in Darfur must be addressed urgently, and not put off until if or when a U.N. force may be in place," said Paul Smith-Lomas, who directs the Darfur operations of the British aid group Oxfam.