Gambari says tensions still persist in Darfur

New York, US (PANA) -The UN/AU Joint Special Representative in Darfur, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, on Thursday said that although recent fighting between Sudan government forces and  rebels had subsided, "tension and the possible escalation of violence still persist in Darfur region''.

``The new fighting between the government and the Sudan Liberation Army/Minni Minnawi Movement (SLA-MM), who were joined by two other groups, the Sudan Liberation Army – Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW) and the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), has already driven some 43,000 people from their homes,'' Gambari said in a report.

The Pan African News Agency (PANA) reports that the report was presented to the UN Security Council, which held a session on the situation in Sudan's Darfur region.

He, however, stated that, ``UNAMID forces have maintained a robust presence and have increased patrolling in the villages affected by the recent fighting so as to create a security environment that would allow for the early, safe return of the recently displaced people''.

He also said that access remained a challenge for UNAMID in many places in Darfur, noting that he had issued instructions to ``adopt a more robust posture and no longer create the perception of seeking permission for movement''.

Gambari also said: ``Since then, supply and logistics convoys to all team sites have faced no hindrance, while on other occasions we were able to push our way through due to robust posture and persistent negotiations by the patrol commanders''.

``However, I also have to report that in other instances we have not yet been fully successful,” he added, citing the inability of humanitarian agencies to reach the scenes of recent fighting.

He reiterated his call for an end to fighting by both the army and the SLA/MM, which signed a peace accord with the government in 2006 before the current deterioration in relations.

Also in a report to the Security Council, Assistant Secretary-General in the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), Atul Khare, said there was some progress in peace talks in Doha, Qatar, between the Sudanese government and rebel groups despite the recent violence.

``Joint negotiating committees from the LJM and the Government have concluded their work in broad areas of power-sharing, justice and reconciliation, compensation, return and resettlement of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), and security
arrangements, but important disagreements remain,' he stated.

He said that there was concern on the powers of a regional authority to implement any peace agreement and a vice presidency for Darfur in the national government in Khartoum.

Khare also cited among positive developments the decision by another rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), to return to Doha and resume negotiations and continued consultations within the SLA-AW on the possibility of joining the Doha process.

On South Sudan, where an independence referendum was held earlier this month, he noted that early indications of results from the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission point to an overwhelming vote in favour of secession.

``But, a parallel referendum to decide whether the disputed Abyei region joins the north or south has not been held,'' he said.

The UN official further warned that tensions between the Arab nomadic Misseriya, linked to the north, and the agricultural Dinka-Ngok, linked to the south, remain high with the seasonal
migration scheduled to resume soon.

``The nearly 11,000-strong UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) continues its efforts to deter a return to violence through the increased deployment and patrols of its troops, but absent a permanent settlement to the status of Abyei, the resumption of violence remains an ever present threat,” he added.
-0- PANA AA/VAO 27Jan2011

27 january 2011 17:23:17

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