Meeting on Darfur conflict planned for early August, UN and AU envoy say
Pushing ahead with efforts to find a political solution to the conflict that has engulfed the Darfur region of Sudan, envoys from the United Nations and the African Union today invited leaders of movements that have not signed the main peace accord to 'pre-negotiation' talks scheduled for early August in Arusha, Tanzania.
In a statement released in Khartoum, the AU and UN Special Envoys for Darfur, Salim Ahmed Salim and Jan Eliasson, said partners who presented initiatives in support of the political process will also be invited to the 3-5 August Meeting with Leading Personalities of the Non-Signatory Movements to the Darfur Peace Agreement.
“The objective of the Arusha meeting is to take stock of the progress made in the Road-map and for the Special Envoys to consult with the movements on the preparations for the upcoming final negotiations,” according to the statement.
Discussions are to focus on “the key role to be played by the Sudanese parties concerned in ensuring a speedy, negotiated and sustainable settlement of the Darfur conflict, including the format and venue of and participation in the negotiations.”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week pledged to push for action on Darfur, where more than 200,000 people are estimated to have been killed and another 2 million displaced since fighting broke out in 2003 between the government, allied militia and rebel groups.
“Our intention is to step up the pace of political negotiations involving all parties – rebel leaders, tribal leaders, Government leaders. The goal is to get them around a table by early September,” Mr. Ban told a news conference in New York on 16 July.
The planned talks were endorsed by the Second International Meeting on Darfur in Tripoli on 15-16 July convened by the two envoys.