SUDAN WATCH: "Those who don't sign, we will continue to appeal to them" - Obasanjo

Saturday, May 06, 2006

"Those who don't sign, we will continue to appeal to them" - Obasanjo

Applause and cheers sounded Friday as Sudan's government and the main rebel group signed a peace agreement and then proceeded to initial each of its 85 pages. The hall in a Nigerian presidential villa was filled with traditional leaders in white turbans, fighters in camouflage turbans, diplomats and journalists, AP/ST reported May 6, 2006:
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."

Alkhalifa and Minnawi

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.


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