Political negotiations the only way to resolve Darfur crisis, Sudan tells UN
The only way to end the Darfur conflict is through political negotiations, Sudan’s Foreign Minister told the General Assembly today, pledging his Government’s full support of peace talks later this month and calling on all of Darfur’s many rebel groups to end hostilities and participate.
Speaking during the last day of the annual high-level debate, Lam Akol noted that his Government has already declared a unilateral ceasefire that will start with the peace talks, scheduled for 27 October in neighbouring Libya.
“We expect the armed factions to reciprocate so that a permanent and verifiable ceasefire is arrived at with the beginning of the talks,” he said. “We also call on the international community to take firm measures against those who refuse to participate in or obstruct the peace talks.”
Mr. Akol called on the countries that host some of the leaders of Darfur’s rebel groups to pressure them to attend the Libya peace talks.
The talks, which are being convened by the UN and African Union envoys for Darfur, Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim, are designed to end the conflict that has raged in the Sudanese region since 2003.
More than 200,000 people have been killed and another 2.2 million forced to flee their homes because of fighting between rebels, Government forces and allied Janjaweed militias. Some 4 million Darfurians now depend on humanitarian aid.
Earlier this year the Security Council authorized the creation of a hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping force to be known as UNAMID to try to quell the violence. The operation is scheduled to take over from the existing AU mission by the start of next year.
Mr. Akol added today that the economic reconstruction and redevelopment of Darfur, an arid and impoverished region on Sudan’s western flank, was a vital factor in ensuring that any peace settlement is consolidated.
“We look forward for the international community to finalize its current efforts towards holding an international conference on the reconstruction of Darfur, which we hope will take place soon.”
The Foreign Minister took issue with what he said were “unfair and hostile ill-intentioned campaigns from some international quarters bent on exploiting the crisis in Darfur to serve their well-known agendas and plans.
“This vicious campaign targeted the policies of the country and its stance, and has strived to exaggerate and distort facts and to violate the country’s capabilities and the heritage and values of its people.”
During his address Mr. Akol also pledged his Government’s commitment to follow through on the implementation of the January 2005 comprehensive peace agreement that ended the separate north-south civil war.