Darfur peace process enters crucial stage - UN official says

New York, US (PANA) - The UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Atul Khare, said on Thursday that the peace process to resolve the conflict in the Sudan's Darfur region has entered a crucial phase with parties to the dispute considering texts of key elements that would form the basis of a draft comprehensive agreement.

Speaking at a session of the UN Security Council, Khare said: ``The Qatari mediators intended to present a draft comprehensive peace agreement by 27 April to the three parties fully engaged in the Doha peace process''.

He listed the parties as the Sudanese government, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM).

He said that the parties were now considering texts of the main elements of the agreement, which include wealth and power sharing, return and compensation of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), justice and reconciliation, human rights and fundamental freedoms and security arrangements.

``Mediators have also indicated that a stakeholders conference bringing together representatives from the various interested parties in Darfur will be held in Doha from 18 to 23 May.

``The conference is intended to drum up consensus on the provisions of the envisaged comprehensive peace agreement,'' the assistant secretary-general stated.

On the planned Darfur-based political process (DPP) to strengthen popular support for the outcome of the Doha peace process, Khare stressed that, ``it must take place in an environment that will guarantee its credibility” through ensuring unhindered participation by all''.

He also noted that, ``the intention of the Sudanese government to lift emergency law will go along way toward fulfilling these conditions''.

He, however, expressed concern over the continuing refusal by two key Darfurian rebel leaders – Minni Minawi and Abdul Wahid al-Nur – to participate in the Darfur peace process.

``The full support of the international community continues to be required to reconcile Minni Minawi and Abdul Wahid with the negotiation process,” Khare told the council members.

On the situation inside Darfur, the UN official said that the UN/AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) had received reports of a build-up of Sudanese government forces in the north-western areas of North Darfur.

``The government informed UNAMID that the increased troop movement was a precautionary measure prompted by the current instability in Libya, Sudan’s neighbour to the northwest and concerns over the proliferation of arms and rebel activity,'' he noted.

Khare also informed the council that three crew members of the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) remain in captivity 98 days since they were abducted in the Um Shalaya area of West Darfur on 13 January.

``The United Nations continues to work with the government to secure their release,” he added.

He, however, pointed out that there was a decrease in hostilities in Darfur last month, but voiced concern over tensions in North and South Darfur.
-0- PANA AA/VAO 21April2011

21 april 2011 14:41:16

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