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Sudan Peace Talks Continue in Nigeria - 2004-08-24

Peace talks between the Sudanese government and the country's two main rebel movements continue for a second day in the Nigerian capital Abuja. Much of the first day was spent working out an agenda on how to proceed.

African analyst Alex Vines of the London-based Royal Institute for International Affairs says the new talks do not seem to be moving in the direction of peace for the Darfur region of Sudan.

"They don't seem to be going anywhere. There is a tremendous fear that this is just a repeat of July," he said. "The government of Sudan isn't really interested in making any further concessions and the rebel groups too are not particularly enthusiastic. So at the moment it's not very auspicious."

Mr. Vines said the Abuja talks are flawed by the lack of planning and preparation.

Similar talks broke down in July when the rebel factions walked out after the Sudanese government refused to honor their precondition of disarming the government-backed Arab militia known as the Janjaweed.

The United Nations has accused the Janjaweed militia of killing tens of thousands of civilians and causing nearly a million more to flee in fear.

The Sudanese government has just one week remaining to find peace before the United Nations could impose international sanctions.

Spokeswoman Remi Oyo says the meeting's host, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo who is at present heading the African Union, has no illusions of a quick settlement of the Darfur crisis.

"He's hoping that this will be a time for all of the people to sit down and talk frankly, for peace is an integral part of development," she said. "And it is important that every African country be at peace not only with itself but also with others."

Ms. Oyo says as long as all of the stakeholders remain at the talks, the talks will continue.