Home | News    Monday 2 August 2004

A.U. head in talks with Sudans president

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KHARTOUM, August 02, 2004 (dpa) — Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is also the current chairman of the African Union (A.U.), has said the A.U. must take the lead in resolving the conflic in Darfur.

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Olusegun Obasanjo

Obasanjo was speaking during a brief visit to Khartoum, after he held talks with Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, reported the British Broadcasting Corporation.

More than one million people have fled from their homes in Darfur where the Arab Janjaweed militia is accused of murder, rape, looting and burning of villages.

Nigeria is contributing troops to the 300-strong force the A.U. plans to deploy in Darfur to strengthen its military observer group which is already on the ground, monitoring a ceasefire between the Janjaweed and Darfur rebel groups.

On Sunday, the Sudanese government said it considers as too short the 30-day deadline within which the U.N. says it must disarm the feared Janjaweed militia in Darfur.

"The Cabinet regards the period of 30 days given by the Security Council as not logical and difficult to implement," the Sudanese Foreign Minister Moustafa Osman Ismael told reporters after the meeting Sunday.

The resolution adopted Friday calls on Khartoum to disarm the feared Janjaweed militia within 30 days, and end what is now commonly called the worlds worst humanitarian crisis, or face sanctions.

Instead, Khartoum said it would implement a three-month programme agreed with the U.N. in July, which would enable the government to disarm the Janjaweed, open relief corridors for humanitarian staff and arrest those responsible for abuses in Darfur.

According to the U.S. relief organization USAID, about 80,000 people have died in Darfur. The U.N. has put the number of deaths at 50,000. Almost 200,000 people have fled across the border to Chad.

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