AU says Darfur talks continue at informal level

Abuja- Nigeria (PANA) -- The Darfur peace talks in Abuja are continuing at informal level, contrary to widespread reports that negotiations had collapsed, the African Union (AU) said Wednesday in the Nigerian capital.
"The AU Special Envoy for Darfur, Hamid Algabid, would like to affirm that these consultations at the level of the parties are still continuing, and so far, no official position was conveyed by them about the outcome of their ongoing discussions," the AU said in a statement.
The statement explained that following a meeting with AU chairman, President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria at the State House Tuesday, the Sudanese government and the two Darfur rebel groups agreed to undertake consultations among themselves on security, a key talks agenda.
"In the meantime, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) have requested few more extra days to contact their various constituencies in the field.
The outcome of the consultations will be reported to President Obasanjo, for necessary decision," the statement said.
It added: "The Special Envoy, the Chad co-mediator and Facilitators, express their hope that the conclusion of the current contacts undertaken by the Movements will positively contribute to the enhancement of the important achievements of the present Inter-Sudanese Peace Talks.
" International media reports Wednesday claimed the talks had collapsed and that the mediators had proposed a four-week recess after the parties stuck to their positions on the issue of disarmament of the rebel forces and the pro-government Janjaweed militias.
While the rebel movements insist their forces would not disarm ahead of a comprehensive peace agreement, the government wants the rebel forces disarmed simultaneously with the Janjaweed, blamed for much of the atrocities in Darfur.
The 19-month fighting in Sudan's western region has reportedly killed tens of thousands and displaced more than one million others.
The Abuja talks, which opened 23 August, have produced an agreement on humanitarian issues, but the parties have yet to sign any protocol pending the conclusion of negotiations on security.
Two other items on political as well as economic and social matters, are pending on the four-point agenda.

15 september 2004 21:56:00

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