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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs