African Union to convene further Darfur peace within 10 days

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ADDIS ABABA, Nov 30 (AFP) — The African Union (AU) is to convene in Abuja, Nigeria, the fourth round of Inter-Sudanese talks on the western Sudan region of Darfur on December 10, an AU statement said.

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Sudanese government delegation at the venue of the Abuja peace talks.

“The Sudanese Parties, namely, the Government of Sudan, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) will attend the said round of talks,” the statement said.

The statement recalled that at the end of a third round of talks in Abuja from October 21 to November 10, the parties signed a protocol on improving the security situation in Darfur and also started discussions on a draft declaration of principles on the political issues.

“The AU Commission hopes that the next round will enable the parties to finalize the Draft Declaration of principles and engage in the substantive discussion of the remaining issues in their agenda,” the statement concluded.

Hopes are high that a deal to end the devastating conflict in Darfur, which rose up against the government in February 2003, could be signed by end of the year, when Khartoum and southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) rebels formally end a separate 21-year conflict, AU chairman and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said in Dar es Salaam on November 20.

Obasanjo and the AU mediators at the last Nigeria talks put strong pressure on the parties to agree to a broad statement of political principles, which would serve as a foundation for talks on a final settlement.

The UN has described the situation in Darfur as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. Tens of thousands of people have died and more than 1.6 million others have been displaced by the fighting.