UN envoy pushes for Darfur progress

Jan Eliasson tells Al Jazeera he is hopeful about agreement between armed factions.

    Thousands of Sudanese have died since fighters took up arms against the government in 2003 [EPA]

    "There are two groups," Eliasson told Al Jazeera.
     
    "One category that just wants to do the preparations more thoroughly and another one which has a negative view to the talks generally."
     
    But he said the first group was "moving on very fast" and that he hoped "substantive" peace talks would soon be under way.
     
    "It's urgent I saw it with my own eyes in Darfur this week."
     
    Combined force
     
    Asked about the reported lack of troops and equipment, including helicopters, for a peacekeeping force in Darfur, Eliasson said: "We have a problem of identifying nationalities for the troop contribution and we have a problem of helicopters and this has unfortunately led to a delay."
     
    On January 1, the current African Union force in Darfur is to merge with the new mission called Unamid.
     
    The combined mission will provide 6,500 soldiers to the war-torn region, but the figure falls far short of the 20,000 troops initially pledged by the UN Security Council.
     
    More than 200,000 people have died from the effects of war in Darfur, while over 2.5 million Darfuris have been displaced, since fighters took up arms against the Sudanese government in 2003.
     
    Peace talks
     
    On Monday, the Reuters news agency reported an unnamed French diplomat as saying France would probably expel Abdel Wahed Mohamed al-Nur, the founder of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), over his refusal to attend peace talks on Darfur.
     
    Al-Nur has been living in France under an authorisation that expires at the end of December, the diplomat said.
     
    "His authorisation to stay will probably not be renewed due to his non-participation in the Sirte negotiations," said the diplomat, who declined to be identified.
     
    Stalled talks
     
    Peace talks brokered by the UN and the African Union between Sudan's government and Darfur armed groups in the Libyan city of Sirte stalled in late October.
     
    Most major groups boycotted the negotiations and al-Nur, who controls only a few troops but enjoys support among Darfuris, refused to attend.
     
    He demanded a series of conditions, including the deployment of an international peacekeeping force and security on the ground before negotiations, but his stance angered diplomats who said security could not be achieved without the talks.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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