Home | News    Wednesday 10 November 2004

African Union welcomes breakthrough in Darfur talks

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ADDIS ABABA, Nov 10 (AFP) — African Union (AU) Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare has welcomed the signing of deals aimed at ending a conflict between the Sudanese government and two rebel groups fighting in the western province of Darfur, an AU statement said.

Konare [photo] said the accords, signed in Nigeria, to improve humanitarian and security situation on the ground will "facilitate the current efforts in the search for a comprehensive and lasting political settlement of the conflict in Darfur", the statement said.

Massive civilian displacement began in Darfur soon after fighting broke out in February 2003 between rebels, government forces and allied militia.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and more than 1.5 mln forced to flee their homes.

The breakthrough was made yesterday, after the Sudanese government dropped its objection to clauses in the security deal, committing it to end military flights over Darfur and to disarm the notorious Janjaweed Arab militia.

Konare stressed "the need to expedite discussions on this issue, to allow further progress in the peace talks", the statement said, as sent to Agence France-Presse by the pan-African body based in Addis Ababa.

The AU commission chief also noted that the latest Darfur deals go a long way to reinforce the shaky ceasefire agreement signed by the two foes in Ndjamena, and has urged them "to scrupulously abide by the commitments", in the truce and the two protocols.

Mediators from the AU drew up the security protocol to demilitarise the 20-month-old conflict ahead of talks to find a lasting political solution.

It commits the warring parties to halt all offensive operations and to fully cooperate with the 3,250-strong African Union truce-monitoring force.

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