Darfur rebels arrive in Khartoum amid high security
Darfur rebels arrived in Khartoum on Sunday for the first time since a peace agreement was signed last month amid tight security as they begin to implement the deal, rejected by many in Sudan.- - -
The African Union-mediated May 5 deal was signed by only one of the three of the negotiating factions despite intense global pressure. The two groups who are holding out say the accord did not address their basic demands.
The advance team of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) faction led by Minni Arcua Minnawi who did sign will form a transitional authority for Darfur to oversee implementation of the deal and development of the remote western region, ravaged by more than three years of conflict.
"It is important to have the signatories of the Darfur peace agreement here because ... their presence will be extremely important for the good will of the implementation," said African Union spokesman Noureddine Mezni in Khartoum.
Minnawi did not return with the delegation despite a presidential decree granting all those who have signed the deal an amnesty to allay suspicions the government may arrest him. He remains in his rebel-controlled areas in Darfur.
Minnawi said earlier this month in an interview with Reuters he did still did not fully trust his partners in peace.
His advance team refused to meet waiting journalists at the airport, preferring to speed off to their government hotel.
Implementation of the deal has already fallen behind schedule as a Darfuri presidential adviser has not been appointed and the transitional regional authority has yet to be formed.
"Now we will start the real business with them to implement the Darfur peace agreement which is highly important," Mezni said.
The most important upcoming deadline is June 22, by when the government has to present a plan to the African Union to disarm the proxy Arab militias they used to quell the revolt and are blamed for much of the current violence.
Jun 11 2006 Sudan Tribune report: Sudan's al-Bachir to issue amnesty decree for Darfur deal signatories