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African Union Mediation on the Inter-Sudanese Peace Talks
on the Conflict in Darfur
African Union Presents Ceasefire Proposal to Sudan Government
and Darfur Movements
AU TELLS THE SUDANESE PARTIES IN ABUJA – TIME IS UP
Two days after agreeing to extend the mandate of the African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS), the African Union, today, presented the Sudan Government and the Darfur Armed Movements with comprehensive proposals for an enhanced humanitarian ceasefire, imploring both sides to bring the bloodshed and suffering to an end.
In a clear message to the Sudanese negotiators in Abuja at the end of his high-level consultations in Paris, including a meeting with Mr. Robert Zoellick, US Deputy Secretary of State, Dr Salim Ahmed Salim, the African Union Special Envoy and Chief Mediator for Darfur, said: “The fate of millions of the suffering people in Darfur is in your hands. The eyes of the world are on you. Now is the time to bring this needless bloodshed to an end.”
For his part, the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Saϊd Djinnit, said: “The Foreign Ministers of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, in their Communiqué of 10 March, made it absolutely clear that they expect nothing less than full compliance of the Parties with the N’Djamena Ceasefire Agreement and the immediate and unreserved adoption of the Enhanced Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement.” “You cannot afford to fail the people of Africa”, added Ambassador Djinnit.
On the other hand, the Head of the AU Mediation Team, Ambassador Sam Ibok, deplored the fact that: “While we have been attempting to negotiate a peace agreement, the Parties have continued to fight it out on the ground in Darfur. This has got to stop. The Government and the Movements first signed a Ceasefire Agreement almost two years ago, but they never stopped fighting; and today, the humanitarian agencies in Darfur are reaching fewer people than they did when that Ceasefire Agreement was signed. The humanitarian situation is catastrophic. This is completely unacceptable.”
The Enhanced Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement, tabled to the Parties today, contains provisions to make the N’Djamena Ceasefire Agreement, signed on 8 April 2004 in the Chadian capital, a reality on the ground. The basic principles for a ceasefire are contained in the N’Djamena Agreement but it lacks details on how to turn the principles into reality. The Enhanced Humanitarian Ceasefire has, at its centre, the demilitarization of humanitarian supply routes and camps for displaced people, which the African Union contends, should be secured by A.U. peacekeepers and civilian police. The Agreement specifies that the forces of the Government and the two Movements—the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army and the Justice and Equality Movement—withdraw their forces to clearly identified areas, with buffer zones between them.
“The warring parties have violated the 2004 Ceasefire Agreement repeatedly and with impunity,” continued Ambassador Ibok, whereas authentic field reports showed that the mechanism in place could have worked, had the Parties to the conflict acted in good faith and genuinely committed to their undertakings in the previous agreements they signed. However, continued Ambassador Ibok, “our experience over the past sixteen months has led us to conclude that there is neither good faith nor commitment on the part of any of the Parties.” “Our new proposals” he added, “are based on detailed technical work by a team of AU and UN experts. They give AMIS the necessary powers to protect civilians and ensure that the ceasefire is respected, and provide for the strengthening of the mandates of the Ceasefire and the Joint Commissions.”
There are currently 7,000 AMIS soldiers in Darfur. On Friday, African Foreign Ministers meeting in the AU Peace and Security Council agreed to extend the mandate of AMIS until September 2006. The Council also urged the Sudanese Government and the Darfur Movements to sign on to the Enhanced Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement proposed to them by the Mediation.
Last month, the United Nations Security Council discussed a report by a Panel of Experts that recommended sanctions against individuals or organizations obstructing the peace process.
On a final note, the Special Envoy and Chief Mediator, Dr Salim, has stressed in his message to the Parties that: “Our proposals are fair, workable and in compliance with the previous commitments entered into by the Parties. I follow the African Union leaders and expect both sides to sign the Agreement as a matter of utmost priority. If any party refuses to sign the Enhanced Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement, we will have no option but to conclude that it is not interested in peace and the well-being of the people of Darfur.”
Abuja, 12 March 2006
For further information, contact:
Nourreddine Mezni (AU Mediation Spokesman)
+234-806 529 4818