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Sudan Peace Talks Resume in Nigeria - 2004-08-28

The Sudan peace talks being held in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, are resuming after a one-day hiatus. Members of the rebel factions are expected to present their position on the crisis in the troubled western Darfur region of Sudan.

The talks between the Sudanese government and the members of the two main rebel factions resumed on Saturday, after taking a day off to allow the rebels more time to prepare their position on the situation in the Darfur region.

A separate meeting of a committee set up by the delegations to specifically evaluate the humanitarian crisis met early Saturday to review the findings of the United Nations visit to Sudan.

The United Nations has threatened to impose sanctions against the Khartoum government, if it does not improve the situation there for the civilian population by Monday.

The new report says there have been small steps to improve access for humanitarian aid, but it also says the Sudanese government has failed to stop the violence by the pro-government Janjaweed militia.

Earlier this week, the Sudanese government representative in Abuja said the government is not concerned by the threat of U.N. sanctions, because it is focusing on resolving the issue through the African Union-sponsored talks in Nigeria.

A London-based African analyst, Alex Vines, says the United Nations needs to impose the harshest sanctions against the government of Khartoum to end the crisis.

"No government likes sanctions," he said. "It does distract trade. It does have an impact on the country, and sometimes the threat of sanctions is the most efficient and effective tool that the United Nations has, more so than the actual imposition of them. The problem with Sudan is that some of the harder sanctions that might well have a tremendous impact initially on the government is a petroleum sanction, but there is far from consensus on that from the Security Council at this current moment in time."

The U.N. report says government-sponsored security forces are still harassing some of the more than one million civilians who fled their homes during the fighting and are now in camps for internally displaced people. It says there are still reports of rapes, beatings and looting of the camps.

The U.N. Security Council is due to meet again in New York to decide what measures will be taken against the Sudanese government.