(BANJUL, November 25, 2005) The Darfur Consortium, a coalition of more than 30 Africa-based and Africa-focused NGOs committed to working for a sustainable solution to the ongoing crisis in Darfur, joined other civil society groups in calling on member states of the Africa Union to reconsider their decision to confer the Presidency of the African Union to Sudan in January.
In a letter, issued on the occasion of the 38th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights held in Banjul, The Gambia, the coalition pointed out that the government of Sudan has borne responsibility for serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Darfur and that the situation in Darfur remains one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.
"Conferring the honor of hosting this summit on the Sudanese government under these circumstances would undermine the credibility of the AU," said Dismas Nkunda, a spokesman of the Darfur Consortium.
Further, the coalition urged African states to oppose the Sudanese bid for the AU Presidency, which will be decided by a final vote at the next Summit. The letter argues that handing over the Presidency to Sudan could put the future of the ongoing Abuja peace talks in serious jeopardy.
The AU Presidency has been playing a key role in steering the talks under the Chairmanship of Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo in Abuja. The Sudanese government, as a party to the conflict, is unable to credibly play such a role. Without competent mediation, the entire peace negotiations might collapse.