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Leaders Seek Solutions to Violence in Sudan, Chad, CAR


Violence and refugees strung along the border of Chad, Central African Republic and Sudan continue to worry international leaders. The U.N. special representative for West Africa is hopeful about a renewed peace agreement among the three countries' leaders. Phuong Tran has more from VOA's Central and West African Bureau.

Chad, Central African Republic and Sudan's presidents face the task of delivering on an agreement signed at the French-Africa summit last week.

The leaders renewed their pledge to end violence that has rocked the three countries, pushing hundreds-of-thousands out of their homes into waste-infested camps that have been caught in inter-ethnic fighting and cross-border raids.

One-time U.N. envoy to Sudan, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, who is the international body's special representative for West Africa, says, despite internal rebellions the governments face, the real challenge is personal relations.

"The problem they have is not of population, not of rebellion, but competition between the three leaders," he explained.

Chad's hostility carried to the negotiating table at the leaders' summit in Cannes, France. Chad's foreign minister called the side-meeting, in his words, "useless", and said Chad was not in Cannes to entertain the crowd.

Despite current tensions between Chad and Sudan, fed by mutual accusations that each leader supports the other's rebel movements, Ould-Abdallah is still hopeful about this latest peace agreement.

"In the past, Sudan was very close to Chad. And at the same time, Chad was [an] enemy and went [to] war with Libya. Now Libya and Chad are very good friends. So, we hope that both leaders, President al-Bashir and President Deby, who know each other very well, will find a common understanding."

But analyst Adrien Feniou, with London-based Global Insight, says, even improved relations between the leaders will not be enough.

"None of these governments have been willing to engage in a political dialogue with the rebels. It seems unlikely they will reach a long-term peace agreement without engaging the rebels," Feniou said.

Though the Central African Republic and Chadian governments have recently signed agreements with rebel leaders, different rebel factions in both countries have dismissed these agreements as government propaganda, and have continued attacks.

International mediation efforts have run into roadblocks.

Ould-Abdallah, who traveled to Sudan in December of last year, reports continued negotiations between U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Sudan's president to place U.N. peacekeepers in Sudan, which President al-Bashir has resisted.

The African Union is planning a fact-finding mission to the region to try to end the violence, and has asked the United Nations for help with its peacekeeping forces.

International NGOs warn that, without immediate intervention, eastern Chad risks becoming a second Darfur, which erupted in civil war four years ago.

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