Darfur peace talks resume Wednesday in N'djamena, Chad

Khartoum- Sudan (PANA) -- Talks between the Sudanese government and rebel groups in the western Darfur region resume Wednesday in N'djamena, neighbouring Chad.
Fighting in the region has so far claimed at least 10,000 lives, with more than 670,000 people displaced, many of them crossing into Chad for refuge from government air raids and pro-Khartoum militia attacks.
In an earlier round of talks in the Chadian capital, the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) agreed to a 45-day cease-fire with government and pro- government forces, to allow in humanitarian aid.
All parties to the conflict pledged safe passage for humanitarian aid to Darfur.
They also agreed to free prisoners of war, while the government undertook to disarm the Janjaweed militias blamed for most of the violence in the area.
In a press statement late Monday, Sudanese Foreign minister Mustafa Osman Ismail said Khartoum was ready to take part in the next round of the talks in N'djamena, adding that the government would maintain the same delegation that attended the first round.
The rebels, though, are still to confirm their participation this time around, after threatening a boycott last 15 April when they accused Khartoum of violating the truce between them, barely four days after it was agreed.
The UN, US, European Union and African Union had all welcomed the ceasefire agreement, while insisting on full implementation of the pact.
SLM and JEM launched a revolt in Darfur last year, accusing the Sudanese government of neglecting the area and arming Arab militias to loot and burn African villages, a charge denied by Khartoum.
The UN and NGOs have accused the Arab Janjaweed militias allied to government troops of carrying out "ethnic cleansing" and other atrocities against civilians in Darfur.

20 april 2004 12:12:00

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