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Activists Say General Agwai's Comments on Darfur Miss the Bigger Picture

A coalition of anti-genocide advocacy organizations has called on the Obama administration to team up with concerned nations and draft a proposal that would bring lasting peace to Sudan.

The position came as the commander of the UN-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur says the region was no longer in a state of war.

General Martin Luther Agwai said Darfur's rebel groups have fragmented and are not strong enough to do any serious fighting.

Alex Meixner, director of policy and government relations for Safe Darfur Coalition, said that while General Agwai's statements accurately depicted the Darfur conflict as it stands, he however missed the bigger picture.

"The fact that open hostilities between rebel groups and the government militias have dwindled is certainly a good sign that we are one step closer to what would hopefully be an eventual peace. But unfortunately it does not mean the situation is getting that much better for the millions of affected civilians who remain in Darfur," he said.

Meixner said UN-African Union peacekeepers are still needed in Darfur because the main purpose of their deployment was to protect the suffering civilians.

He said the process to bring about a political agreement for Darfur has been a bit slow.

"Unfortunately the political process is probably not quite as far along. What is clear is that until there is that final peace agreement that takes into account the rebel groups, the government as well as the millions of civilians and civil society throughout Darfur…the causes of the violence and of the initial war, would not have been sufficiently dealt with," he said.

Meixner praised President Obama's Sudan envoy Scott Gration for the work he and his staff are doing with regards to the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

He said the Obama administration should work bring about a comprehensive peace agreement for all of Sudan.

"What we would like to see President Obama and his administration to do is capitalize on whatever momentum already exists and use that to try to coordinate the international community around finding and resolving these underlying issues once and for all," Meixner said.

He expressed disappointment that Darfur rebel groups were not unified enough to articulate a common position toward lasting peace in Darfur.