African Union chief calls for fresh Darfur peace talks
DAR ES SALAAM (AFP) — African Union chairman Jakaya Kikwete has urged the Sudanese government and rebels to resume peace talks in bid to restore stability in the volatile Darfur region.
"AU is impressed with (the) Sudanese government's initiatives in restoration of peace in Darfur, but wants to see peace talks with rebels resume to achieve lasting peace in Sudan," he said in a statement released late Friday.
Kikwete made the plea after receiving a message from Sudan's President Omar el-Beshir in Dar es Salaam, delivered by a special envoy Mustafa Osman.
Osman, accompanied by Sudanese Justice Minister Adbel Sabderat, briefed Kikwete on his government's initiatives to bring to an end the war in Darfur.
"I am pleased with the initiatives aimed at ending the protracted war in Darfur.
"However, it should be stressed that the plight of Darfur and Sudan in general is in your own hands, the people of Sudan. We in the AU are there to support those efforts," said Kikwete, also Tanzania's president.
Beshir on Wednesday called an immediate ceasefire in Darfur, where UN figures show 300,000 people have been killed in a raging civil war since 2003. Khartoum says 10,000 people have died.
The main rebel movement in the region, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), dismissed Beshir's call as a propaganda stunt for the West.
Several previous peace talks have failed to restore stability there.