Sudanese parties sign Darfur ceasefire monitoring pact

Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- The Sudanese government and its main opposition in the western Darfur region Friday signed an agreement on setting up a ceasefire commission and promptly began talks here on how it will operate in the war-ravaged region.
The Ceasefire Commission, to be headed by an appointee of the African Union, will comprise four other members representing the European Union (as vice chair), Chad, Government of Sudan and the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A).
AU Peace and Security Commissioner Said Djinnit, who chaired a two-day consultation leading to the accord, said the Union would next Wednesday send the first group of observers to Khartoum and Al-Fashir town in Darfur Region.
He said deployment of the group that will comprise two military officers and seven observers from the AU Commission is intended "to ensure immediate visibility" of the Ceasefire Commission in Darfur.
When fully deployed, the AU Monitoring Mission will be the operational arm of the Ceasefire Commission.
It will include observers from the parties, the Chadian mediation team, AU member States and representatives of the international community.
Speaking on behalf of the two rebel movements at the signing ceremony, JEM representative Ahmed Mohamed Tugod Lissan assured of their commitment to the terms of both the Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement signed 8 April 2004 in N'djamena, Chad, and the latest accord.
"The people of Darfur have suffered much, not just from the present conflict but from the history of Sudan.
They have been marginalised and suffered from many things beyond their control," Lissan said.
Sudan's Permanent Representative at the AU Commission and ambassador to Ethiopia, Osman Elsaid, who signed the agreement for his government, said: "Peace and security should prevail in Darfur.
Darfur will remain part and parcel of Sudan, Inshallah.
" The seat of the Ceasefire Commission shall be located in Al- Fashir and the AU military observers in the region, according to the agreement, may be lightly armed.
Sudanese authorities as well as the JEM and the SLM/A are required to ensure the protection and safety of the observers, who are expected to enjoy unrestricted freedom of movement and access throughout Darfur.
In case these parties fail to provide effective security, the protection element of between 100 and 300 men would be drawn from AU member States to undertake the task.
Members of the Ceasefire Commission will monitor and report on compliance with the ceasefire agreement and investigate any violation of the deal.
A crucial task of the Commission is to advance confidence building in the region and visit sites of internally displaced persons.
Ambassador Maitine Djoumbe of Chad said his country's mediation team in the Darfur crisis was "happy that the representatives of the Sudanese government and the opposition parties have behaved in a way that led us to this happy conclusion.
" Meanwhile, the European Union has welcomed the commitments that all parties have made.
"This is a red letter day for Sudan," said a representative of the EU, noting that the Darfur accord came on the heels of the agreement signed this week in Naivasha, Kenya, between Khartoum its chief opponent, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A).
The official said the EU was the same day discussing the Darfur crisis in Brussels and launching a process of recruiting observers and staff of the monitoring mission to the region.
On the same occasion, the United States pledged to provide financial, logistical and personnel support to facilitate the deployment of observers and the monitoring of the ceasefire in Darfur.
A US representative at the meeting also observed that getting international monitors on the ground in Darfur "will require enormous effort.
" The League of Arab States too announced that it would provide substantial support in the deployment of the observation team in Darfur.

28 may 2004 15:46:00

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