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Darfur rebel group accepts Chad as neutral co-mediator

9/27/2005 4:06am

LAGOS, Sept. 26 (Xinhuanet) -- A rebel group in the western Darfur region of Sudan has accepted the role of neighboring Chad as "a neutral and impartial co-mediator" in the peace process, according to a statement issued by the African Union (AU).

Darfur rebel groups had in the past accused Chad of siding with the Sudanese government and of being a "peace-spoiler" in the peace talks, the sixth round of which started a week ago in Nigeria's capital Abuja.

But at the weekend, a delegation from the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the smaller of the two major rebel groups in Darfur, held talks with Idriss Deby, president of Chad, in the country's capital N'djamena, said the AU statement available here on Monday.

During the talks, both sides made "an in-depth examination of the obstacles impeding the peace process on Darfur and a thorough review of past misunderstandings between Chad and JEM," the statement said.

They agreed "to closely cooperate with the international community to find a speedy and durable solution to the humanitarian crisis facing the people of Darfur," it said.

The role of Chad as a mediator was one of the problems that hindered the Abuja peace talks, which also included the split within the larger rebel group Sudan Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/M).

The Darfur conflict, which flared up in February 2003, has claimed many lives and driven more than one million others from their homes.

The African Union has brokered a shaky ceasefire and struggled to find a lasting solution through five previous rounds of talks, which however failed to get substantial agreements.

On September 15, Khartoum and the Darfur rebel groups resumed the sixth round of peace talks in Abuja with a seven-day workshop on power and wealth sharing as well as security arrangements. Substantive negotiations of these issues are expected to begin on Monday. Enditem

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