Konare says political talks only will bring peace to Darfur

Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson Alpha O umar Konare has urged the Sudanese authorities to facilitate the deployment of t r oops for the UN/AU Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and stressed the need for all people involved to find a political solution to the bloody conflict in the region.
Despite its limited financial, material and personnel limitations, the AU would never abandon the people of Darfur Region and Sudan in general until peace reign e d throughout the country, Konare said Monday during a one-day visit to El Fasher , North Darfur.
Addressing the troops and civilian personnel of the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS), Konare also called on rebel groups in Darfur to join the AU/UN-sponsored peace n e gotiations taking place in Sirte, Libya.
PANA quoted Konare as saying "Instead of blaming foreigners for being slow in fu lfilling their pledges, Sudanese must realize that they have the first responsib i lity to stop violence in their country.
"They must stop committing wicked acts against their own people, violence agai nst children and against women.
"Sudanese must stop unprovoked attacks against the soldiers of peace and against humanitarian personnel who have come to their help.
"Rebel movements should join the peace process, observe the ceasefire and respect it on the ground.
" The AU chief executive had gone to El Fasher to bid farewell and pay tribute to AMIS personnel ahead of the formal transfer of the peace-keeping authority from A U force to the UNAMID 31 December, 2007.
Konare thanked AMIS for a job well done and said: "I wonder what would have happ ened in Darfur if the AU had not intervened? "I am proud to tell you that you have done whatever you have been able to do in order to make Africa be up to its commitment by engaging in the peace process in Sudan.
You have done this job despite all the difficulties in which some of our p eople lost their lives.
"We will never forget about Haskanita.
We will never allow another Haskanita.
We will never allow attacks against civilians and violence against innocent childr e n and women," he said, recalling the death of 10 peacekeepers 29 September, 2007 when Darfurian rebels attacked an AMIS camp at Haskanita, South Darfur.
Konare was optimistic that the UNAMID mission would take off without hitch and b e accomplished in the interest of all Sudanese and the African continent.
AMIS has operated in the Darfur region since June 2004 when it was launched with a core staff of 60 military observers and a protection force of 310 troops.
Currently, it has grown to a 9,000-strong force of military, police and civili an personnel.
"It has never been easy for the AU to deploy such a force.
It was the first expe rience ever for the AU in peace-keeping operation that involved the mobilization of a lot of resources, finance and personnel," Konare remarked.
Underlining the commitment of the AU to reach a solution to the conflict in Darf ur, Konare said UNAMID would run on an annual budget of approximately US$ 2 bill i on that could have been directed to social development if there were peace in th e region.
He said security and stability on the Chadian/Sudanese border would be instrumen tal to achieving peace in Darfur.
"Reaching a peace agreement in Darfur is essential.
Then everything will change.
That's what we are looking forward to because there cannot be a military soluti o n to this conflict," he said.
According to Konare, Sudanese people must commit themselves to ending violence and stop carrying arms.
Before returning to Addis Ababa, Konare held private discussions with Sudanese P resident Omar Al-Bashir in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital.

25 december 2007 12:40:00

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