News

    Limited Attendance Marks Darfur Talks Debut

    With Darfur peace talks said to be in jeopardy even before they began over the weekend in Libya, Sudan’s government announced a unilateral cease-fire. Several key rebel groups failed to attend the talks, which got under way Saturday in the Mediterranean seaside town of Sirte under the watchful eye of Sirte’s leading resident, Libyan President Muammar Gadhafi. One day later, an end to their opening phase was marked by speculation that the next phase would be postponed until abstaining rebel groups had fully prepared their positions and agreed to come to the negotiating table.  George Ola-Davies is UN spokesman to Jan Eliasson, the Secretary General’s special envoy to Darfur.  From Sirte, Ola-Davies says the organizers are eager for others to appear.

    “It is not everybody that is boycotting.  We’re expecting more leaders to come here.  We are hoping that those who say they will not come now will have a change of heart and come.  We are hoping that those who have requested for some time to organize themselves will find it necessary to come so that their voices could be heard.  We wish for the internally displaced persons to be here.  We have among us the civil society movement.  We hope that everybody will be here so that we can look at the problems, find the solutions to them, and the people of Darfur live in peace and harmony for years to come,” he said.

    The negotiations are being sponsored by the United Nations and the African Union to help pave the way for a political settlement ahead of the planned deployment of a reinforced 26-thousand-troop peacekeeping force due in the troubled region by early next year.  They follow by two days an agreement signed in Sirte last Thursday by Chadian President Idriss Deby and four rebel groups that operate in eastern Chad along the border with Sudan’s Darfur region.  Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir attended the Libyan-sponsored talks on Chad, but did not stay on for Saturday’s start of the Darfur talks, for which he was not a designated negotiator.  Ola-Davies points out that stopping the Darfur fighting is just a prelude to what he hopes will be a serious process of building the framework of a lasting settlement of the four-and-a-half-year-old conflict.

    “What the negotiators are trying to do is to get everybody on board to agree to a cessation of hostilities, simply because you cannot be fighting and talking at the same time.  When the issues that are to be tackled will be tackled – and there are many – we have to talk about wealth sharing, power sharing, security, land problems.  Most of the groups are thinking of preparing themselves now to continue with the process which has already started here,” he noted.

    International mediators are indicating that the next phase of the talks may continue until the end of the year with the possibility that more rebel groups may enlist as the talks progress.  However, sponsors had been hoping that the Libya discussions would help UN prospects for achieving a political settlement ahead of the planned deployment of the hybrid UN-African Union peacekeeping force across the embattled Western Sudan region by early next year.  Ola-Davies says organizers do not plan to place any deadlines on Darfur groups reluctant to come to terms with other parties involved.

    “Listen, you cannot put any timetable to talks.  That does not mean it should be an open-ended one.  We are, as I say, at the preparatory stage.  Special envoys have made it clear that there are phases we are going to go into.  We are only at the beginning,” he says.  

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora