The Darfur peace process continues, although the various warring parties have yet to sit down for some hard negotiating. The talks are being held in the Libyan coastal city of Sirte.
George Ola-Davies is a spokesman for the UN special envoy for Darfur. From Sirte, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the status of the peace process.
“It continues. As I always say, it’s a process. I’m talking to you from Sirte…. The experts that are here are working on the modalities that should be used for the negotiations proper. The (rebel) movements that are present will be sending some of their delegates back to the field for further consultations. That does not mean all of them will be going. Some of them will still be here. A part of the government delegation will also be here. And we’ve also had news coming from the field in Juba, which is very encouraging, that people (rebel factions) are fusing together. They’re coming together in a unified fashion so that they can start the negotiations when the time comes,” he says.
The AU’s Darfur envoy Salim Ahmed Salim is quoted as saying he would be ready to conduct some of the peace talks outside of Libya. Ola-Davies responds, “Well, the talks started in Sirte. [They] will definitely end in Sirte. Nobody expected everything to have been under one roof. That is the nature of negotiations. They may do a certain portion here and another there, but it is all within the context of the same negotiation. And they will be coming over to Sirte to end that process.”
No formal negotiations are currently being held in Sirte. Only preliminary discussions and preparations are underway.
“We cannot give any artificial timing to anything. We’re hoping that by the end of this month, the groups that are meeting now in Juba and in Darfur would have come up with a…unified move thinking about their own negotiators, thinking about their own programs that they’ll be negotiating. So that by the time they reconvene…we will get a much stronger position from both sides of the negotiations table.