The African Union has condemned on-going violence in Sudan?s Darfur region.  This -- as the AU mediates peace negotiations in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, between the Sudanese government and rebels.  The seventh ? and latest ? round of talks began on november 28th and resumed after a holiday break on January 15th

On Saturday, Sudan accused Chad of attacking a military position in West Darfur 40 kilometers north of Geneina.  Chad denies the charges and says any such attack was likely carried out by darfur rebels ? not by Ndjamena.

Chad and Sudan each accuse the other of supporting the other?s insurgents.  Last month, Chad declared a ?state of belligerence? between itself and its neighbor. 

Nourredine Mezni is the AU spokesman for the Abuja peace talks.  He told Voice of America reporter William Eagle that ?the African Union Special Envoy for Darfur and Special Mediator, together with the entire AU Mediation Team, remain deeply concerned over the recent escalation of violence in the Jebel Marra area, particularly in the Golo and Shearia localities of Darfur, as well as in the Arminkol area of the Kulbus locality of Western Darfur. ?   

He said the AU Mediation team is ?utterly outraged by the violations of the ceasefire, the worst this year, especially as they occurred at a critical juncture in the Abuja Peace Process when the Sudanese parties and all concerned stakeholders are striving so hard?to ensure that a peace agreement is concluded?in the coming weeks.?   He says the AU is also concerned about the escalation of violence between Chad and Darfur could delay a settlement of the conflict in Western Sudan.

The AU spokesman says the AU Special Envoy emphasizes that there is no viable military solution to the conflict in Darfur, and warns that those responsible for recent ceasefire violations must be made to realize that it is unacceptable to talk and fight at the same time.  He says the Special Envoy calls upon the Peace and Security Council of the AU and the Security Council of UN to consider all appropriate measures to get the parties to comply with the letter and spirit of the ceasefire agreement.  The Special Envoy also calls for all parties to refrain from all hostile and offensive actions.

Mr. Mezni says the negotiations include commissions discussing security arrangements, power sharing, and wealth-sharing.  He says the last commission is making the most progress with team members agreeing on many of the ways to share the country?s oil wealth. On the other hand, he says working groups have yet to reach a consensus on matters regarding the nature of security and on power sharing in the council of ministers, the National Assembly, state government and public service.