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Darfur peacekeeping head against Mideast-kind peace process

by Staff Writers
Khartoum (AFP) Jan 28, 2010
The new chief of the UN-AU peacekeeping force in Darfur, Ibrahim Gambari, on Thursday expressed fears the peace process for Sudan's troubled western region could drag on like that of the Middle East.

"We are actors in the supportive role. We want to do more than that but we are not the drivers of this process," said the Nigerian who is taking over as African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) head from Rodolphe Adada of the Republic of Congo.

"We are supportive, we are behind the scenes," Gambari told correspondents in a Khartoum hotel after a meeting with Sudan's President Omar al-Beshir.

"What I don't want, speaking frankly from my experience, for this to become is another peace process like in the Middle East ... I don't want ... a Darfur peace process that is, you know, endless. That is my hope."

He said UNAMID could be "more pro-active, to inject ourselves."

The United Nations says up to 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million fled their homes since the ethnic minority rebels in Darfur first rose up against the Arab-dominated Sudan government in February 2003.

The government says 10,000 people have been killed.

Khartoum wants negotiations in the Qatari capital between the government and Darfur rebel groups to be completed within two months, ahead of Sudan's presidential and legislative elections.

"Some groups are demanding more time. We have told mediators that time is running out and that negotiations must not exceed the third week of March," Sudan's Minister of Culture Amin Hassan Omar said in Doha on Sunday.

Sudanese government officials and rebel groups present in Doha have not been yet involved in direct talks, Omar told reporters. Instead consultations are being held with mediators from the United Nations, African Union and Qatar.

Sudan is due to hold elections in April, the country's first in 24 years, while a referendum is to be held in January 2011 on independence for the south of the country.

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Tribal clashes threaten Sudan peace deal
Khartoum, Sudan (UPI) Jan 26, 2009
More than 160 people have been killed in tribal clashes in southern Sudan this month, fraying a fragile peace agreement that ended a devastating 22-year civil war in 2005 and heightening fears that the country is descending once more into chaos. "Sudan is sliding toward violent breakup and time is running out," says Fouad Hikmat, Sudan adviser for the International Crisis Group, a Bruss ... read more

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