Home | News    Wednesday 31 May 2006

AU hopeful Darfur rebels will sign peace deal

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May 30, 2006 (KHARTOUM) — Hours before the expiry of a May 31 deadline by the African Union to Darfur rebel groups still holding out of a peace deal, the pan-African body said Tuesday it was hopeful the insurgents would beat the ultimatum.

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Said Djinnit African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security.

"Until the May 31 deadline expires, we are hopeful that the parties that have not signed will sign the Abuja peace agreement," AU Peace and Security Commissioner Said Djinnit said.

Only one faction of the main Darfur rebel group, Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), signed the peace deal brokered in Nigeria earlier this month, leaving out the SLM’s dissenting faction and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

The groups have refused to sign the peace agreement aimed at ending three years of civil conflict in the western region of Sudan which has left some 300,000 people dead and 2.4 million homeless, arguing that the deal fails to fully address their concerns.

Sudanese First Vice President Silva Kiir, himself a former southern rebel who heads the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, said that he had spoken to the head of the SLM splinter movement to try to convince him to sign up.

"We have already reached a peace agreement for Darfur and we are waiting to convince those who have not joined the agreement to sign," he told a crowd of supporters in Khartoum.

"I have telephoned Abdelwahid al-Nur to convince him to do so, and I will talk to him again," he said. "I’m going to approach all those who have not signed the agreement and I will seek assistance from the United Nations."

An SLM field commander in Darfur, Moussa Morneh, hinted there was a possibility of the SLM coming on board.

"Maybe we will sign but until now we did not yet receive the message from the chairman (Nur) for signing tomorrow," he told AFP by satellite telephone.

Nur himself, currently in Nairobi, was uncontactable.

Djinnit said that if they fail to append their signatures on the Darfur Peace Agreement, the bloc’s Peace and Security council would meet to discuss measures to take against them.

"We hope that they will exemplify a historic responsibility and to realise that the agreement is a good basis to achieve peace in Darfur," Djinnit said.

"If not, the Peace and Security Council will meet to see what measures to take ... measures will be taken."

The AU special representative in Sudan Baba Gana Kingibe said efforts were continuing to woo the holdouts to sign the agreement.

"Concerted efforts are still being made with a view to convincing the hesitating Darfur movements’ leaders of the need to append their signatures to the agreement," Kingibe said in a statement.

The Abuja accord, signed on May 5, provides for a more equitable distribution of power and wealth, the disarming of the pro-government Janjaweed militias and a referendum on the future of Darfur, but the holdouts say it does not go far enough.

(ST)

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