Thursday, August 26, 2004

Darfur peace talks started Monday in Nigeria - Aid top of agenda - talks made breakthrough on more AU forces

On Monday, Nigerian and AU President Obasanjo opened the peace talks in Nigeria, calling for unity of purpose among Africans to end the crisis without the intervention of foreign forces. "Africa cannot continue to be the problem child of the world known for the pitiable pictures shown around the world of miserable looking children and women dying of malnutrition and diseases as a result of wars and internal crises," Obasanjo said.

On Tuesday, GoS and Darfur rebel groups unanimously adopted an agenda for peace talks, African Union chairman, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, said. The Nigerian leader said the parties will take a brief break before resuming talks on the first item on the agenda, which is the provision of humanitarian aid to Darfur. 'I believe that we made progress,' he told reporters. 'This morning, we adopted unanimously the draft agenda with minor amendments,' he said. Obasanjo said it was impossible to say when the first round of talks would end."

Wednesday August 25, China News reports China News reports that Darfur talks make breakthrough on more AU forces

Also, a Channel News Asia report says Sudan's government will accept a larger African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur if the troops are used to contain and demobilise rebel forces, the head of Khartoum's team at peace talks revealed.

'They may need more forces besides the protection of the (AU) monitors to protect the cantonment of the rebels, and we agree about that,' Agriculture Minister Majzoub al-Khalifa said just before AU-sponsored peace talks in the Nigerian capital went into their third day."
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One British official who has been working in western Darfur told journalists that the region remained largely “bandit country” in which “the Janjaweed are doing what they want, where they want, when they want to the non-Arabs”. Having driven the farmers from their villages into makeshift refugee camps, the Janjaweed were keeping them there through the use of lower level abuse such as beatings and sexual attacks ensuring they were free to do as they wished in the rest of the country.

The official said that although the Sudanese army remained in their garrisons, the Khartoum government had deployed police from outside Darfur into the region. He added however, that it remained to be seen whether those police had been given orders to crackdown on the violence.

The official said he was anxious to find out more about UN plans to create security areas in a 20km radius around the camps. He added that he did not expect the refugees to have the confidence to return to their villages until next spring.

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