UN Envoy Pushes for Darfur progress
UN Envoy Pushes for Darfur progress Website
The UN's special envoy to Darfur has praised efforts to unite Sudan's rival armed factions ahead of peace talks with the Sudanese government. "They [the armed groups] are now organising themselves in a new way," Jan Eliasson told Al Jazeera on Tuesday. "It's a very dynamic situation and I hope this will be moving in a positive direction." Eliasson was speaking from Khartoum, where on Monday he met the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and a number of Darfur's other armed groups. The SPLM has been trying to hammer out a joint position for the different groups involved in the conflict, ahead of peace talks in the New Year. "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.