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Darfur Rebels Request Agenda in Peace Talks

Peace talks being held in Nigeria to end the crisis in the western Darfur region of Sudan will reconvene again Thursday after ending early Wednesday, to allow members of the African Union to meet separately which each side to hash out an agenda.

Representatives from the Sudanese government and the two main rebel movements are still holding separate meetings with the African Union on the third day of talks to end the crisis that has plagued the western Darfur region of Sudan for more than 20 months.

The new round of talks being held in the Nigerian capital Abuja officially opened Monday but immediately hit the same obstacle that caused earlier talks to collapse last month. A spokesman from the rebel Justice and Equality Movement Ahmed Hussain Adam told VOA the issue of security ended group discussions on Monday.

"The security issue was the obstacle in the last talks but we still now also have obstacles because the government of Sudan does not want actually to accept the proposal, which is being presented by the African Union concerning the security issues," he said. "They still don't want to properly disarm the Janjaweed. It has to be disarmed and that should be supervised by international mechanisms."

The Janjaweed is a pro-government Arab militia group which has clashed with black African farmers and rebels in the western Darfur region of Sudan causing more than a million civilians to flee their homes. Rebel groups are demanding a security deal be reached to disarm the militia before they will sign a humanitarian resolution that would assist the displaced villagers.

The humanitarian resolution was the only deal reached in the first round of Sudan peace talks held in Nigeria but had not been formally signed when the talks broke down.

Mr. Adam says the humanitarian protocol is directly tied to security issues because if the security situation does not improve more people will be displaced and aid will not be able to get to the people who need it most.

The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution in July calling on the government in Khartoum to disarm the Janjaweed militia and investigate human rights abuses or else risk sanctions. The Security Council will meet in Nairobi next month to assess the current crisis in Sudan.