Negotiators and warring sides from Sudan's troubled Darfur region say they are encouraged by the most recent round of talks in Nigeria, even though no agreement was reached. The talks have adjourned for at least one month.
African Union mediator Sam Ibok said in a closing statement signed by all sides that most attention was given to finding a new power-sharing structure in the just finished sixth round of talks in Abuja.
"Apart from making substantial progress on the general principles of power-sharing, we also engaged in some discussions on the federal system at all levels of governance," he said. "We are confident that even though modest progress was made during this session, the foundation has been laid to enable us to move forward on the substantive issues that are on the agenda for power sharing negotiations during the next round."
Other issues that need more work include wealth-sharing arrangements between the people of Darfur and the government in Khartoum as well as new security arrangements for the western region.
Government negotiators said they were encouraged by a better sense of optimism in this round of talks, but did admit to being frustrated in the slow progress.
A spokesman for one of the rebel groups, Mohammed Tugod, from the Justice and Equality Movement, told VOA, he was looking forward to the next round, tentatively scheduled for late November.
"I do not think today is a setback," he said. "We experienced some difficulties in the procedure but there is a will and determination from parties to continue and proceed in this process. As far as the determination for the parties to achieve peace, I think what we have achieved, so far, is reasonable and I hope that the next round will be a decisive round."
During the talks that began in mid-September, the warring parties heard from international experts and then broke away in workshop sessions, but never held concrete negotiations.
The talks were marred by an apparent split in the other main rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Army, as well as ongoing violence in Darfur, including a recent attack that killed several Nigerian African Union peacekeepers.
Rebels launched their insurgency in early 2003, accusing Sudan's central government of discrimination, neglect, and economic domination in Darfur. Fighting which has also involved government militias has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced an estimated two million.