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Rebels reject Darfur deal, Sudan breaks apart

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  • #31
    The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said his office had documented massacres with hundreds of victims in Sudan's war-torn Darfur region as well as hundreds of rape cases.

    In a report to the UN Security Council, Luis Moreno-Ocampo said the office had documented "thousands of alleged direct killings of civilians by parties to the conflict," including "a significant number of large-scale massacres, with hundreds of victims in each incident."

    Ocampo told the council that his office was investigating allegations that some of the groups implicated in the Darfur crimes "did so with specific genocidal intent".

    He said identifying those with the greatest responsibility for the most serious crimes in Darfur was a key challenge for his probe but said he would not draw any conclusions pending the completion of a "full and impartial investigation".

    He said the ICC would need the "full support of the Security Council and the unfettered cooperation of the international community, in particular the government of Sudan".

    Ocampo said interviews of victims and witnesses reported that men perceived to be from the Fur, Massalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups were "deliberately targeted".

    Evidence cited eyewitness accounts that "the perpetrators made statements reinforcing the targeted nature of the attacks, such as 'we will kill all the blacks' and 'we will drive you out of this land'."

    The report also cited a "significant amount of information indicating that thousands of civilians have died since 2003" as a result of lack of shelter and basic necessities for survival after their homes and food stocks were destroyed and their property looted.

    Ocampo's office also recorded "hundreds of alleged cases of rape", which the report said was indicative of an endemic practice among some groups involved in the conflict.

    It highlighted a "widespread pattern of displacement of civilians, with recent estimates of some two million displaced persons and refugees from Darfur".

    "Destruction of property and looting is a prevalent feature of the crimes in Darfur, with reports of destruction and looting in up to 2,000 villages throughout the three Darfur states," it said.

    The study covering the October 2002-May 2006 period, also referred to continued reports of direct attacks on humanitarian workers and peacekeepers, including the killing of African Union peacekeepers in 2005 and 2006.

    "These attacks are not only grave examples of the potential warcrimes, they also have an impact on the delivery of vital services that exacerbates the suffering of the most vulnerable groups in Darfur," it said.

    Meanwhile Sudan's UN envoy Omar Manis said his government had set up a special criminal court to deal with the Darfur crimes.

    But New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it was aware of only 13 cases that had been brought before that special court to date.

    "The cases have involved low-ranking individuals accused of relatively minor offenses. No senior commanders or superiors have been charged for their part in the atrocities," HRW said.

    "The cases before the court so far involve ordinary crimes like theft and receiving stolen goods, which don't begin to reflect the massive scale of the destruction in Darfur," Sara Darehshori, senior counsel to the International Justice Program at HRW, said in a statement.

    "The Sudanese government must do more than pay lip service to the idea of justice," she added.

    The ICC, based in The Hague, is mandated to try genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. It can also try crimes of aggression although member states have not yet agreed on the legal definition for such crimes....

    War crimes court finds multiple Darfur massacres


    • #32

      AS the peace talks for the Darfur region of Sudan drew to a close last month, the United States took over the task of defining the solution. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick flew into Abuja, Nigeria, where the talks were being held, on May 2 and three days later the Darfur Peace Agreement was signed. The only trouble is, the United States is backing the most abusive rebel leader in Darfur.

      The response to the peace agreement was tepid in Abuja. But it was far cooler in Darfur, where the agreement is widely viewed as a peace between two criminal elements: the Sudanese government and Minni Arcua Minnawi, the leader of the faction of the Sudan Liberation Army that is drawn mainly from the Zaghawa tribe.

      Mr. Minnawi's group is one of three rebel groups in Darfur — the two others rejected the agreement — where the Zaghawas make up less than 8 percent of the population. The wealth and influence they have gained because of their energy, drive and capacity for strategic action have caused tensions with other tribes for years.

      But since the rebellion began, the abusive behavior of Mr. Minnawi's forces — often hundreds of miles outside their home area — has awakened old fears that the tribe has a hidden agenda: the creation of a new Zaghawa homeland carved out of the more fertile lands of others. Mr. Minnawi's acceptance of the peace agreement is reason enough for most Darfurians to reject it.

      The tragedy of the people's rejection is that the agreement has some virtue. There is, for the first time, a timetable for the disarmament of the janjaweed, the Arab militias that with government backing are destroying everything that makes life possible in Darfur. In three years' time, Darfurians will have elections to choose their own representatives. Until then, a nominee of the rebel movements will occupy the fourth-highest position in the presidency and will control a new regional authority with a first-year budget for security, resettlement, reconstruction and development of more than a half-billion dollars.

      But the agreement also has a number of critical weaknesses. Most important, it is excessively reliant on the cooperation of a government that has not honored a single commitment made since it unleashed its forces against the rebels, and the marginalized tribes from which they are drawn, early in 2003.

      In addition, Mr. Minnawi's behavior in the month since he signed the agreement has not been promising. In peace as in war, Mr. Minnawi is wedded to force. On May 20, his men seized one of his most visible critics, Suliman Gamous. Mr. Gamous has been held in solitary, without charge, ever since. As humanitarian coordinator of the Sudan Liberation Army, Mr. Gamous made it possible for the United Nations and many nongovernmental groups to work in rebel areas. He helped hundreds of foreign journalists move safely around Darfur and document the plight of its people.

      But Mr. Minnawi denied senior United Nations officials access to Mr. Gamous for nearly a month. When concerned Zaghawas sought a meeting to ask why Mr. Gamous had been arrested, Mr. Minnawi's chief of staff told them, "I can shoot Gamous and sodomize you." They were stripped, bound, pistol-whipped and burned with cigarettes.

      African Union officials have verified the events and have rebutted Mr. Minnawi's claim that Chadian mercenaries were the perpetrators. But nobody involved in the peace plan has criticized him publicly. Once again, his abuses have been passed over in silence.

      If the Darfur Peace Agreement is to have any hope of succeeding, the United States must stop empowering criminals and antagonizing those who are unconvinced. Rather, the peace brokers should assist rebel commanders critical of Mr. Minnawi to convene a conference and elect a leadership that would cross tribal lines and have popular support. Darfurians must be convinced that this peace is their peace and not, as many call it, the "Ila Digen peace," the peace of Mr. Minnawi's small clan.

      The United States must increase confidence in the peace agreement by fiercely rebuking the Khartoum government — and Mr. Minnawi — for every violation of the agreement and every deadline they fail to meet. All Darfur's tribes must be brought into the peace process — most important, the Arab tribes that had no place at the Abuja table, even though the vast majority of them did not join the janjaweed. And no regional dialogue would be complete without the involvement of the janjaweed themselves, who despite their atrocities are one of the keys to a lasting settlement.

      Last, the United States must make clear that there is no peace without justice. It must provide the International Criminal Court with intelligence on the conflict to ensure that nobody, government official or rebel, gets away with murder in Darfur. A first step would be to distance itself from its new favorite son. Minni Minnawi is not the guarantor of peace; he is one of the obstacles to it.

      Dealing with the Devil in Darfur

      (Use ID mediajunkie16 password mediajunkie to access article)


      • #33
        Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has opposed the deployment of international troops in his country, saying Sudan would not be "re-colonised".

        The UN is considering sending peacekeepers to Sudan's Darfur region to supplement African Union troops.

        Conflict in Darfur between rebels and pro-government forces has killed about 300,000 people in three years.

        A report by the International Crisis Group on Monday said a UN peace force was urgently needed in Darfur.

        But Mr Bashir said there would be no such force in Sudan, according to reports in state media.

        "I swear that there will not be any international military intervention in Darfur as long as I am in power," Mr Bashir was quoted as telling a meeting of his ruling National Congress late on Monday.

        "Sudan, which was the first country south of the Sahara to gain independence, cannot now be the first country to be re-colonised," he said.

        South African President Thabo Mbeki is currently in Sudan on a one-day visit, with peace moves in Darfur on the agenda.

        The ICG warned that the current peace agreement over Darfur had little chance of bringing stability "unless the parties comply strictly and the international community acts decisively to support the peacekeeping mission".

        The peace plan was signed by the government and one rebel faction in Nigeria in May.

        "There is a very real danger that the international community, in its eagerness to get a deal, has brokered one that is structurally weak," the ICG report said.

        "The document has serious flaws, and two of the three rebel delegations did not accept it," it added.

        BBC world affairs correspondent Mark Doyle says Mr Mbeki will be told that the current peace agreement, which was pushed through by African and western mediators, may have made the situation worse rather than better.

        The rebel movement which signed the peace agreement is from the minority Zaghawa group, while the movement representing Darfur's majority Fur group did not take part, our correspondent says.

        The AU-brokered deal has failed to end the violence in Darfur, where more than 2m million people have fled their homes.

        The 7,000-strong AU force in Darfur, which operates with th approval of the Sudanese government, has been hampered by a lack of funding and resources.

        Sudan rejects 'colonial' troops


        • #34
          United Nations, Jun 23 (Prensa Latina) UN Secretary General Kofi Annan admitted Friday that the United Nations lacks authorization from the Sudanese government to display UN troops in Darfur, and that the dialogue with the authorities in Khartoum still continues.

          In a meeting with the press in the UN host building, Annan said a mission headed by Sub-Secretary General Jean-Marie Guehenno is in Sudan and met Sudanese President Omar al Bashir, with whom Annan talked on the phone.

          Annan insisted on the fact that he has tried to transfer all Sudanese citizens as possible, including residents in Darfur, and reasserted UN will help Sudan and its people.

          "If they had been protected, display of troops would not have been necessary," Annan said.

          He also added that there are much more things to do, as for instance, to make pressure on the rebel groups, which have not signed the peace agreement in Darfur.

          Finally, Annan said there is a need to ensure a substantial response to humanitarian work in Sudan, and keep the conversations with the government of Khartoum to send the UN force, comprised by 20,000 members.

          UN lacks authorization for troops in Darfur

          Top peacekeeping official says internally displaced in Sudan want UN force in Darfur


          • #35
            KHARTOUM, June 25 (Reuters) - Sudan has suspended the work of a U.N. mission in its violent Darfur region after accusing the world body of transporting a rebel leader who opposes a recent peace deal, a Sudanese official said on Sunday.

            "The suspension applies for all of Darfur and this will continue until we get an explanation," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Jamal Ibrahim.

            He said the ban, which excludes two bodies affiliated to the U.N. mission, the World Food Programme and the U.N. children's agency (UNICEF), was imposed because a U.N. helicopter had moved rebel leader Suleiman Adam Jamous, who rejects a peace deal signed on May 5.

            Sudan suspends all U.N. mission work in Darfur


            • #36
              KHARTOUM (Reuters) - The African Union has defended a Darfur peace deal signed by the Sudanese government and one of three rebel groups in May against critics who had said the agreement contains "serious flaws".

              The International Crisis Group (ICG) has criticised the May 5 deal and said in a report released last week that the African Union-mediated agreement needed a robust U.N. peacekeeping force to avoid collapse in the remote region.

              "The International Crisis Group 'Policy Briefing' on Darfur contains some serious errors of fact and interpretation, which are extremely unhelpful to the process of implementation," the AU said in a seven-page reply, seen by Reuters on Monday.

              Since the deal, the AU has come under attack in the camps which house 2.5 million displaced Darfuris, and their patrols have been obstructed by hostile armed factions who did not sign the deal or were not present at negotiations.

              Key deadlines, including receiving the government's crucial plan to disarm proxy militias by June 22, have been missed with no repercussions.

              The AU rejected the ICG analysis that the deal contains no guarantees for implementation.

              "There are in fact no fewer than three levels of guarantees either built into the (deal) or surrounding it," it said, adding that U.S., European, senior U.N. officials and African presidents who signed the deal as witnesses were guarantees.

              ICG said it stood by its analysis.

              "The security situation continues to be extremely worrisome," said Dave Mozersky, ICG's Sudan researcher.

              "Implementation of the (deal) is likely to be challenged by a combination of government unwillingness, rebel divisions and unwillingness of the international community to stand up for a sufficiently robust peacekeeping force," he added.

              Tens of thousands have been killed in three years of rape, murder and pillage in Sudan's remote west, violence Washington calls genocide.

              While Khartoum denies the charge, the International Criminal Court is investigating alleged war crimes in the region, the first case referred by the U.N. Security Council to the tribunal which is a separate body from the United Nations.

              An ill-equipped 7,000-strong AU force is monitoring a widely ignored truce in Darfur.

              The AU, fast running out of cash, has asked the U.N. to take over, but Khartoum has rejected the move. Sudan paints a picture of a Western invasion that would attract Islamic militants and create an Iraq-like quagmire in Darfur.

              U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he would meet President Omar Hassan al-Bashir at an AU summit in Gambia this week to discuss Khartoum's rejection of the U.N. force, which he described as "incomprehensible".

              AU defends embattled Darfur peace deal


              • #37
                Sudan lifts ban on UN Darfur mission


                • #38
                  The Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) has sharply criticised the National Congress Party, its partner in the national unity government, for rejecting UN peacekeepers in the country.

                  Yasser Arman, SPLM spokesman, said his movement had not been consulted over the government stance rejecting the deployment of UN troops in Darfur region.

                  He pointed out that the SPLM have no objections to the deployment of UN troops in Darfur.

                  On Friday, Omar al-Bechir, the Sudanese president, reiterated his opposition to an international peacekeeping force in Darfur.

                  In an interview with a French magazine, the Sudanese leader was quoted as saying he was "suspicious of the desire of the United States to internationalise the Darfur conflict".

                  Highlighting this resistance to foreign troops, the Sudan government ordered Chadian military personnel working with AU truce monitors in its western Darfur region to leave on Saturday.

                  Chadian-Sudanese relations have deteriorated in recent months with both sides accusing the other of supporting guerrillas working in Sudan's remote west, which has a long, porous border with Chad.

                  In Gambia, a summit of more than 50 African heads of states opened on Saturday, with the aim of pursuing regional integration, but conflicts in Darfur and Somalia will be topping the agenda.

                  The leaders are expected to focus much attention and time to seek solutions to the conflicts in Sudan's western Darfur region from where the African Union is adamant it will pull out its poorly-equipped 7,000 strong force by September 30 to pave way for UN peacekeepers.

                  Sudan squabbles over UN troops


                  • #39
                    A new alliance of Darfur rebel commanders and political parties have attacked a town on the road to the capital, declaring a 27-month-old truce dead, rebels and officials said on Monday.

                    One of three rebel factions had signed an African Union-mediated peace deal in May, but since then new alliances have been formed among those who reject the deal.

                    "The forces of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) attacked a town in North Kordofan called Hamrat al-Sheikh," said a spokesman for the Sudan armed forces. "Sudanese planes have been deployed and the aggression is continuing."

                    Hamrat al-Sheikh is on the road between the capital, Khartoum, and North Kordofan's main town el-Obeid.

                    The JEM has little military power on the ground in Darfur, where the other main rebel group, the fractious Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), controls most of the rebel territories.

                    The JEM formed an alliance last week called the National Redemption Front (NRF) with a few breakaway SLA commanders and a small political party, the Sudan Federal Democratic Alliance.

                    Adam Ali Shogar, one of the SLA commanders in the NRF, told Reuters that his forces were still in control of Hamrat al-Sheikh.

                    "God willing, we will be on our way to Khartoum," he said. "The government has shown it is not committed to the 2004 humanitarian ceasefire so this deal now has no meaning."

                    "The government has shown it is not committed to the 2004 humanitarian ceasefire so this deal now has no meaning"

                    It was the first time a rebel group in Darfur openly stated it was disregarding the April 2004 truce, which had in any case been ignored by all groups.

                    During the more than three years of revolt in Darfur, rebels often attacked in Kordofan, which neighbours Darfur, saying they were close to the capital. They never reached Khartoum.

                    Monday's attack will be a blow to the May 5 peace deal, already facing criticism from Darfuri citizens and Jan Pronk, the top UN envoy in Sudan.

                    Since the deal, the rebels have split many times and formed many alliances. Commanders have changed sides on numerous occasions.

                    Many Darfuris reject the deal, saying they want more compensation for war victims, more political posts and more transparency in disarming proxy government militias, blamed for much of the rape, pillage and murder that has driven 2.5 million into wretched camps and killed tens of thousands.

                    Darfur rebels end truce with attack


                    • #40
                      Sudan has summoned the Eritrean ambassador to clarify why Eritrea is hosting a Darfur rebel alliance that attacked a town this week.

                      The National Redemption Front (NRF) is an alliance of Darfur rebels and political parties that reject the peace deal struck in May. It was formed in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, last week and attacked Hamrat al-Shaikh, 200km from Khartoum, on Monday.

                      Lam Akol, the Sudanese foreign minister, said: "If they form a movement in Asmara and come and fight against Sudan and we have asked Asmara to mediate in problems in the east, then that does not augur well for peace."

                      Eritrean-Sudanese relations had improved in recent months, and Asmara sent an ambassador to Khartoum last month. Asmara is mediating in talks intended to end a simmering 10-year-old conflict in eastern Sudan.

                      Most of the opposition groups have either signed agreements with Khartoum or are in peace negotiations.

                      But Eritrea's hosting of the new rebel alliance has raised a question over its ability to mediate neutrally, Akol said.

                      "This is why we are seeking clarification so we can get an answer to that question - we told them we need an immediate answer," he said.

                      The Eritrean embassy in Khartoum declined to comment.

                      Monday's attack in North Kurdufan, which neighbours Darfur, prompted a hasty response from Sudan's armed forces, which sent bombers to repulse the offensive.

                      The NRF said a two-year-old humanitarian ceasefire was dead, the first time a rebel group has openly denounced the truce, although it had in any case been largely ignored by all parties.

                      Majzoub al-Khalifa, the Sudanese presidential adviser, also accused Chad of supporting the NRF, in comments carried in state-owned press.

                      Chad has played host to many of the rebel commanders involved in Monday's attack. Sudan has also been home to Chadian insurgents bent on overthrowing the president, Idriss Deby.

                      Sudan questions Eritrea over rebels


                      • #41
                        At least six people have been killed and 11 wounded after assailants ambushed a German aid agency vehicle in southern Sudan, witnesses say.

                        Five Sudanese teenagers riding in the back of a pick-up belonging to the German Agency for Technical Co-operation (GTZ) and one attacker were shot dead in the attack, they said on Wednesday.

                        The ambush occurred on Monday, about 20km west of Juba, the provisional capital of southern Sudan.

                        In addition to the casualties, a Kenyan surveyor working for GTZ was reported missing.

                        About 30 assailants, thought to be members of Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) stormed the truck carrying non-German GTZ employees and security guards and about 20 passengers, the witnesses said.

                        "They were shooting bullets all around us," said Paul Agos, a Sudanese security guard for GTZ who was in the vehicle. "I fell off the truck and shot one of them. Then they all fled into the bush."

                        Witnesses said the attackers, some of whom were uniformed, were rebel fighters with the LRA, which has waged a nearly 20-year war in northern Uganda and southern Sudan but is preparing for peace talks with Kampala.

                        Witnesses said that the assailants spoke the Acholi dialect of northern Uganda and that the attack took place in an area known to be frequented by the rebels, but the identities of the attackers could not be independently confirmed.

                        A spokesman for the LRA delegation in Juba awaiting the start of Wednesday's peace talks with the Ugandan government denied the rebels were involved in any such attack.

                        "I can categorically deny that the LRA is responsible for the attack," spokesman Obonyo Olweny said.

                        Herbert Kremeier, GTZ's Kenya-based programme director for southern Sudan, said the attack underscored the agency's concern for its employees' safety in the region where it is building a road from Juba to the town of Bor.

                        "GTZ is concerned about security," he said. "It has been an issue."

                        Kremeier said a search, backed by UN helicopters, was under way for the missing Kenyan surveyor, Daniel Wekesa.

                        Six killed in Sudan aid agency ambush


                        • #42
                          Little has changed in the two months since the Sudanese government signed a much-celebrated peace agreement with the biggest Darfur rebel force to end a war that has claimed an estimated 200,000 lives:

                          KASSAB, SUDAN - Don't ask Ibrahim Rahma about the peace agreement for Darfur. Where he sits, in this camp where thousands displaced by the war in western Sudan now live in tumbledown wooden shacks, there is no peace.
                          Here, the 38-year-old sheik said, stick-legged children still subsist on rationed food and armed men still terrorize people.

                          "You cannot just say there is peace. You have to see it," said Rahma, seated under a billowing gum tree with two dozen other weary-faced sheiks.

                          Across the vast, unforgiving desert of western Sudan, little has changed in the two months since the Sudanese government signed a much-celebrated peace agreement with the biggest Darfur rebel force to end a war that has claimed an estimated 200,000 lives.

                          The violence that forced 2.4 million people from their homes continues, though the worst fighting now appears to be among rival rebel groups that rose up against Sudan's Arab-led government in 2003 on behalf of Darfur's marginalized African tribes.

                          The rebels' original enemy, Arab militias known as the janjaweed, which Sudan unleashed to fight the uprising, also are still here, looting and occasionally killing villagers in a scorched-earth campaign that the Bush administration has labeled genocide.

                          The long, complex process of disarming the janjaweed, the linchpin for peace, has already missed its first deadlines.

                          Overseeing the agreement are 7,000 overwhelmed African Union troops, who don't have the authority to punish violations. The United Nations wants to send its own, stronger mission next year, but Sudan's president, who denies any wrongdoing in Darfur, said last month that would "never, ever happen."

                          Last week, the U.N. envoy to Sudan, Jan Pronk, suggested that the deal might be doomed.

                          "There is a significant risk that the Darfur Peace Agreement will collapse," Pronk wrote on his blog at "On the ground, especially amongst the displaced persons, it meets more and more resistance."

                          That the deal is already on life support is a major disappointment for international efforts to end what the United Nations has called the world's gravest humanitarian crisis.

                          In May, diplomatic heavyweights led by then-deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick pressed Sudan and the rebels toward agreement in a week of feverish negotiations in Abuja, Nigeria. But at the last minute, with Sudan and rebel leader Minni Minnawi ready to sign, a rival faction led by Abdol Wahid al Nur pulled out.

                          Analysts welcomed Minnawi's endorsement at the time because he had the biggest military force, but support among his field commanders is eroding. Increasingly isolated, Minnawi shuns interviews and spends less time in Darfur, people here say.

                          Since the agreement, Zoellick has left the State Department, leaving the U.S. without a point man in the peace process.

                          "The U.S. provided important leverage and diplomatic initiative to the process, got one rebel group to sign a deal that [the government] was ecstatic about and then bailed," said John Prendergast, a senior adviser to the International Crisis Group, a Belgium-based think tank that tracks international conflicts.

                          "The aftermath of that premature departure has been disastrous," he said, "as the other rebel groups have only grown in support and resources, at the expense of the faction that signed."

                          Up and down Darfur's sandy moonscape, village after village sits empty. In some, the charred, crumbling shells of mud huts are chilling reminders of janjaweed raids. Other villages, abandoned in fear, are eerily empty, seemingly frozen in an early morning stillness.

                          Potable water, proper schools and other services are urgent needs, residents said.

                          Analysts say the disarmament provisions are the agreement's weakest link because they rely on total cooperation from Sudan's government - which has maintained that the conflict is tribal and that the janjaweed aren't under its control - and on robust monitoring by the undermanned African Union.

                          "There will be no disarmament of the janjaweed under the existing plan, which is too weak to sustain such a difficult process," Prendergast said.

                          Within days of the signing, numerous new attacks were reported. On May 15, according to local accounts, 11 villagers were killed in janjaweed raids in the area around Kassab.

                          Sheiks here said anyone who ventures outside the camp risks being attacked. An African Union convoy must escort the women who go to collect firewood.

                          With the ongoing violence, basic humanitarian aid doesn't reach about a third of people who need it. Much of western Darfur is a no-go zone for aid workers, and throughout the region white SUVs emblazoned with aid agencies' logos are sporadically hijacked by janjaweed and rebels alike.

                          According to the agreement, Sudan was to present a complete disarmament plan by late June, and the African Union was to establish demilitarized zones for aid convoys to travel more freely. Those deadlines came and went.

                          Without progress on disarmament, the peace deal - and the African Union - seem to lose credibility in Darfur with each passing day. In a recent meeting, the sheiks of Kassab said they hadn't read the agreement and an African Union officer volunteered to bring them a copy printed in Arabic.

                          The sheiks waved their hands dismissively. Rahma, among the youngest in the group, spoke up.

                          "We need security," he said. "We don't need to see any papers."

                          Deal brings little peace to people of Darfur


                          • #43
                            Khartoum - Fighters of the largest Darfur rebel faction, which signed a May peace deal for the western Sudanese region, stand accused of raping and murdering civilians in an offensive against rebel holdouts, the United Nations reported on Sunday.

                            Four thousand civilians have fled the fighting between the rival factions of the Sudan Liberation Movement in the Tawila area of North Darfur state, the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) said in a situation report.

                            More than 650 displaced people, most of them women and children, arrived in the Zam Zam camp alone, the report said, citing the African Union peacekeeping mission in the region.

                            The displaced were all members of the Fur ethnic group - the region's largest - which provides much of the support for the holdout SLM faction of Abdul Wahid al-Nur.

                            One of the displaced said he had witnessed 15 young women "being raped and then killed" by fighters of the mainstream SLM faction of Minni Minnawi, the report said.

                            The same informant charged that about 40 men were kidnapped and "were believed to have been executed", it added, noting that the general security situation was reported to be tense.

                            Minnawi's faction signed a May peace deal with the government after talks sponsored by the African Union in Abuja.

                            Nur's faction and another rebel group - the Justice and Equality Movement - declined to sign the agreement aimed at ending more than three years of fighting in which an estimated 300 000 people have died and 2.4-million more been displaced.

                            The UN mission also reported ethnic unrest in South Darfur state between the Arab Habaniya tribe and the Falata.

                            The death of seven Habaniya traders in an ambush by Falata fighters in Ragag south-west of the state capital of Nyala Thursday sparked clashes Friday in which 15 people were killed, the report said.

                            Darfur rebels accused of rape and murder


                            • #44
                              KHARTOUM • The future of a peace agreement signed by a Darfur rebel faction and the Khartoum government looks bleak as violence continues, rebel factions splinter into new groups and the West looks away, analysts said.

                              Some said the May 5 agreement, signed by only one of three negotiating rebel factions, was flawed, having been rushed through with few incentives for the rebels. Others said failure to implement the deal had led to a climate of mistrust.

                              Key deadlines have been allowed to pass without repercussions. Government and rebel attacks in violation of the deal have gone unaddressed.

                              “It’s highly fragile for a number of reasons...It’s unlikely to succeed in bringing peace unless there’s full implementation by the Sudanese government, more input from the international community and a larger and stronger international force in Darfur,” said Dave Mozersky of the International Crisis Group, based in Kenya.

                              Tens of thousands have been killed and 2.5 million people forced into camps during three years of rape, murder and pillage in Darfur in sprawling western Sudan, where rebels took up arms accusing Khartoum of neglect of the ethnically complex region.

                              An ill-equipped 7,000-strong African Union force is in Darfur monitoring the widely ignored deal. Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al has repeatedly blocked attempts to deploy UN troops in the province, a key rebel demand.

                              Analysts said the deal failed to address many other key rebel demands, such as determining land ownership and grazing rights, and the inclusion of international guarantees of compliance with the terms of the agreement.

                              “They did it on the hope this could catalyse stronger support among the general population. You could say this was an unsteady, unpromising agreement with a high probability of failure,” said Stephen Morrison at the Centre for Strategic and International studies in Washington.

                              The deal’s defenders say it was only an initial step to pave the way for further dialogue. One analyst said the West rushed the deal through with only one rebel group on board because it was led to believe UN troops would soon be allowed to follow.

                              “(Second Vice President) Ali Osman Mohamed Taha was absolutely categorical that once a peace deal was signed ... Sudan would allow UN peace keepers in Darfur. There was no ambiguity at all,” said Patrick Smith of the Africa Confidential political newsletter in London.

                              The top UN envoy to Sudan Jan Pronk has called for the deal to be widened to encourage rebels who have not signed to return to negotiations.

                              Future of Darfur deal looks bleak


                              • #45
                                BRUSSELS, July 18 (Reuters) - World powers will press Sudan on Tuesday to accept a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur to replace an African Union force that has been unable to stem the violence.

                                Sudan is set to reject the move once more.

                                The United Nations and aid agencies will also press donors at talks in Brussels between U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the EU, the United States, and Sudan to finance the AU force for a few more months before a transition to the U.N.

                                The cash-strapped African Union's 7,000-strong force has been unable to stop the violence Washington called genocide. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and 2.5 million forced in exile, in three years of fighting in lawless Sudan.

                                The U.N, the European Union and the United States have long been pressing Khartoum to accept the world organisation take over the mission in an effort to stop the violence.

                                "A U.N. operation is the only viable and realistic option in Darfur in the long term," the European Union said on the eve of the talks.

                                "The important thing is that we find the right possibility for the AU and Sudan to come to the U.N.", EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner stressed.

                                "This is exactly what we all want, what is necessary. I hope this conference can contribute to it," she told Reuters.

                                World powers are set to clash with Sudan's Foreign minister Lam Akol, as Foreign Ministry spokesman Jamal Ibrahim reiterated on Monday Sudan's repeated rejection of a U.N. mission.

                                But eight leading aid agencies said in a joint call on Tuesday the international community should focus on funding the AU to stop the killings now, rather than discuss the transfer.

                                The mission only has enough money to run its mission until August, EU officials said.

                                "The African Union ... simply cannot be expected to fulfil its mandate without proper support," said Barbara Stocking, director of the British branch of Oxfam, in a joint statement with other aid agencies.

                                "We are hoping that people will pledge," also said a U.N. spokeswoman. "We have to do something collectively to make the horror stop."

                                The AU had wanted to hand its operation to the United Nations at the end of September but its leaders decided earlier this month to extend its mission until the end of the year because of Sudan's opposition to any U.N. deployment.

                                "While an enormous amount of money is being spent debating what will happen in six months time, no one seems to have noticed that people are still being killed today," said Denis Caillaux, secretary general of CARE International.

                                The agencies urged donors to make pledges whether or not there is an agreement for a transition to the U.N.

                                But a senior EU official said "all support to AMIS (the AU's mission) is of course in the perspective of a transfer to the U.N. later."

                                World powers to press Sudan on Darfur U.N. force


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