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Civil Rights Activist Dubious of Darfur Deal

A top civil rights activist for Sudan's Darfur region is dubious about the new deal agreed to in Nigeria, saying more time is needed.

Abdelbagi Jibril says more time should have been taken in Abuja to reach a deal all rebels could agree to, and not just one faction.

"Signing a document for just the sake of signing is not helpful at all because at the end of the day, our objective is to have some kind of sustainable peace in Darfur and that cannot be really reached unless all the parties, all the parties, I mean all of them, come to terms with the kind of agreement that would be helpful," he said.

Mr. Jibril took part in several marathon rounds in Abuja previously, but was following the latest U.S. and British-led mediation attempt from Switzerland.

He tells VOA he was surprised Sudan's government was so willing to sign at this latest round, two years after negotiations began.

Still, Mr. Jibril says he is encouraged by U.S. involvement in the process. Top American mediators helped broker Friday's agreement, while U.S. politicians, movie stars and journalists have recently been to Darfur.

"They saw with their eyes the misery and the atrocities that are being committed on the civilians and definitely what they are trying to tell the world, it is very helpful," he added. "The problem is that we see resistance from many countries and I think some of them must be because they ignore what is going on, on the ground."

Some U.S. government proposals include having U.N. peacekeepers replace African Union troops with the help of NATO logistics.

The conflict which erupted in early 2003 mainly between rebels fighting for local black farmers against Arab militias has left tens of thousands dead, hundreds of thousands in refugee camps, and has started provoking violence in nearby Chad and the Central African Republic.