Sunday, March 05, 2006

All-inclusive Darfur Conference - UN force in Darfur only upon AU request - Pronk

At long last, there is news today of an all-inclusive Darfur conference. I seem to recall that a few years ago, militia leaders were invited to peace talks but they did not turn up. Seems they were afraid of being attacked or arrested.

Surely this time might be different, especially after two years of Col Gaddafi's effort behind the scenes to broker peace for Darfur. He seems gifted at drawing people together and speaks their language, in more ways than one.

Today, a British reader posted a comment at Sudan Watch rightly noting:
"Libya has seen attempts by the Arab League and the AU to solve the crisis in Darfur fail in the past. Multi-party conferences took place in 2004 and 2005. In 2005, for example, the summit participants included the Egyptian President, the Libyan leader, the Nigerian President (also the AU chairman), the Sudanese President, the Eritrean President, and the Chadian President. Also attending was the Arab League Secretary General and representatives from a number of regional organizations. However two main Darfur rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement, chose to stay away.

"Leaders from Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Nigeria and Chad voiced opposition to foreign interference in Darfur, stressing the issue should be solved within the AU framework."
But what is different this time is, the warring parties are under pressure from the UN and facing sanctions, travel bans, ICC inquiries and donor funding for development. Who knows, as an incentive to agree a ceasefire with the next few weeks they may even be offered ICC immunity and the role of UN troops in Darfur may be along the lines of the UN peacekeeping force agreed for South Sudan as part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed January 2005.

Sudan Tribune article Mar 4, 2006 quotes UN envoy Jan Pronk as saying UN force in Darfur will only be upon AU request. Excerpt:
In a press statement after his meeting with the head of the government delegation in Abuja, Majdhub al-Khalifah, Pronk said talks on whether to hand over the AU's mission in Darfur to the UN should be held after the African Peace and Security Council meeting on 10 March.

Pronk said his meeting with Majzoub al-Khalifah tackled the importance of an all-inclusive Darfur conference, which required the participation of all the sons of Darfur, including the armed movements, the civil administrations and political parties.

Pronk said the meeting also discussed ways to stop militias attacking civilians pointing out that attacks were still continuing.

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