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7th ROUND OF THE INTER-SUDANESE PEACE TALKS ON THE CONFLICT IN DARFUR
The AU Mediation Discusses the Way Forward with the Stakeholders
The African Union Mediation Team led by Ambassador Sam B. Ibok today Wednesday 18 January 2006, met separately with the delegations of the Sudanese Movements (SLM/A and JEM), the Government of the Sudan (GoS) delegation attending the current Round of the Inter-Sudanese Peace Talks; and later in the afternoon, with the representatives of the Co-Mediators, Facilitators and the International Partners. These sessions were also attended by the Coordinators/Chairpersons of the three Negotiating Frameworks; namely: Ambassador Berhanu Dinka for Power Sharing; General Chris Garuba for Security Arrangements; and Mr Boubou Niang for the Wealth Sharing Commission.
The objective of the consultations was to brief the Sudanese Parties and the other stakeholders on the outcome of the 13 January 2006 United Nations Security Council session attended by Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim, AU Special Envoy for Darfur and Chief Mediator, accompanied by Ambassador Sam Ibok, convened to review the progress made in the North-South Peace Process in the Sudan and the situation in Darfur which dominated the debate. The consultations with the Parties were also intended to discuss the future of the Talks, the way forward and other related issues such as the methodology and negotiating strategy for this final and critical phase of the negotiations.
During the briefing sessions, Ambassador Ibok made clear to the Sudanese Parties the disappointment of the African Union Peace and Security Council, and the United Nations Security Council over the slow progress so far achieved. Referring to Dr. Salim’s address to the UN Security Council, Ambassador Ibok indicated that the briefing reflected the collective assessment of the entire Mediation including the International Partners. He emphasized that the current Round of the Peace Talks had been characterized by inflexibility, suspicions and the absence of minimum level of confidence. Ambassador Ibok then called upon the Sudanese Parties to see how the rest of this month of January could be used effectively to bring the Talks to a successful conclusion.
It is to be recalled that while briefing the UN Security Council on developments in, and the pace of the current Round which he described as “disturbingly and agonizingly slow”, Dr. Salim had proposed, among other things, that all possible efforts should be made to ensure the effectiveness of the Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement and the institutions set up to monitor the Ceasefire. He added that carefully targeted sanctions should be imposed on those violating the Ceasefire or impeding the negotiations, and that the Sudanese Parties should be encouraged to approach the Talks in a more determined manner.
While in New York, the AU Special Envoy was also received in audience by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan with whom he discussed the Peace Talks and the ways and means through which the United Nations can continue to support the process. Dr. Salim later held a working session with the African Group in New York.
The meetings with the Sudanese Parties were followed by frank discussions during which the Mediation Team urged the Sudanese Parties to pursue the negotiations with greater unity of purpose and flexibility bearing in mind the untold sufferings of the people of Darfur. Expressing their renewed resolve to continue to invest their best efforts in the Talks, the Sudanese Parties paid tribute to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Current Chairman of the African Union; Professor Alpha Oumar Konaré, Chairperson of the African Union Commission; the AU Special Envoy, Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim as well as the entire AU Mediation Team and the African Mission in the Sudan (AMIS) particularly the African Forces on the ground, for their continued dedicated efforts to achieve definitive peace in Darfur. They reaffirmed their determination to take the negotiations to their logical conclusion and offered some ideas to the Mediation on how to revitalize the Abuja Peace Talks. The International Partners, for their part, assured the Mediation Team of their continued commitment to contribute to the on-going efforts to arrive at a peaceful settlement of the crisis.
Abuja, 18 January 2006
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