Deal struck as Darfur talks end

Peace talks between Sudan's government and Darfur rebels ended on Wednesday, a day after Khartoum bowed to international pressure and signed agreements on security and humanitarian issues with rebels.

    The UN says Darfur is the world's worst humanitarian crisis

    African Union mediators said the talks would resume around 10 December

    in the Nigerian capital Abuja to negotiate a political

    settlement for the conflict that has been dubbed the world's

    worst humanitarian crisis by the United Nations.

    "We hereby close the second round of talks on Darfur in

    Abuja," said top mediator Allam-Mi Ahmad at a closing ceremony

    attended by the warring parties, mediators and diplomats.

    The African Union Commission President Alpha Oumar Konare

    said he welcomed the signing of the deal.

    "The signing of these two protocols will contribute to the

    improvement of the humanitarian and security situations on the

    ground," Konare said

    .

    Security protocol

    "It will also facilitate the current efforts in the search

    for a comprehensive and lasting political settlement of the

    conflict in Darfur," he said.

    The security protocol envisages disarming the pro-government Janjawid fighters

    , accused by rebels of a campaign of rape

    and killing, and asks both sides to provide information of the

    whereabouts of their forces.

    "The signing of these two protocols will contribute to the

    improvement of the humanitarian and security situations on the

    ground.

    It will also facilitate the current efforts in the search

    for a comprehensive and lasting political settlement of the

    conflict in Darfur"

    Alpha Oumar Konare,
    African Union Commission President

    The humanitarian protocol says aid workers should be given

    free access to refugees in camps where disease and malnutrition

    have killed at least 70,000 people since March.

    Separately, an AU official said the number of troops

    deployed in Darfur would reach 840 by the end of the week, with

    the deployment of 196 Gambian troops.

    The AU has said it plans to deploy a total force of more

    than 3200 personnel, including 1700 troops who will serve as

    peacekeepers and 815 civilian police.

    Fighting

    Large scale fighting erupted in early 2003 when two

    rebel groups staged an uprising, accusing Khartoum of neglect.

    The conflict followed years of low intensity fighting

    between nomads and farmers over scarce

    resources in the vast desert region.

    Khartoum signed the two protocols on Tuesday just 10 days

    before a UN Security Council meeting at which Sudan could have

    seen sanctions imposed on its oil industry.

    Mediators instructed both sides to reconvene in Abuja in

    December to finalise the draft of a common declaration of

    principles to govern further negotiations for a political

    settlement.

    So far, the government has accepted a draft but rebels want

    to see more points added to the agenda.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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