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Darfur: UN, African Union envoys hold fresh talks with leaders of rebel groups

Darfur: UN, African Union envoys hold fresh talks with leaders of rebel groups

Salim Ahmed Salim (L) and Jan Eliasson
The United Nations and African Union envoys spearheading efforts to devise a durable political settlement to the five-year conflict in Darfur have held several days of talks in the Sudanese region with representatives of the groups and movements that have not signed previous peace accords.

Jan Eliasson of the UN and Salim Ahmed Salim of the AU met with Khalil Ibrahim, the leader of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), in a rebel-controlled area of West Darfur yesterday.

A day earlier the two envoys – accompanied by military officers from the hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping force known as UNAMID – held consultations in North Darfur state with members of the Abdul Wahid movement of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM).

Mr. Eliasson and Mr. Salim discussed the primacy of the political process and the urgent need to cut the level of violence, better protect civilians and ensure greater humanitarian access during the talks with the two groups.

Today the Special Envoys are scheduled to meet representatives of the Sudanese Government in Khartoum, the capital.

Mr. Eliasson and Mr. Salim have repeatedly reiterated their calls for the parties to the Darfur conflict, which have claimed more than 200,000 lives and displaced nearly 2.5 million others since 2003, to end all violence and prepare for substantive talks aimed at devising a durable peace.

The parties cannot fight and prepare for peace talks at the same time, the envoys have said, stressing that a reduction is violence is vital if progress is to be made on the political front.