ME and Ophelia

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

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With Darfur rebels in Paris Yesterday

June 22 A meeting was held in Paris yesterday between a high ranking Sudanese government delegation and officials from the rebel Sudan's liberation movement in Darfur.

The Sudanese news agency said that the talks would start by an open session to be followed by a five day work session to discuss all aspects of the situation in Darfur, west Sudan. The agency said that the French foreign minister Michael Barnieh would play a role in the negotiations.

Officials said that the secretary general of the ruling party in Khartoum province, al-Haj Atta al-Mannan, would preside over the government's delegation and that the talks were a continuity of the talks held with other rebels from the "justice and equality movement" last March.

Both the "Justice and equality" (JEM) and Sudan's Liberation' movements (SLM) rebelled in Darfur in February 2003, saying they want their own just share of the authority and wealth. The two movements signed a truce with the government on April 8th, however, every and each side used to accuse the other of violating the truce.

Meantime, the EU foreign police coordinator Javier Solana announced the arrival of European observers to Sudan to help the African Federation to monitor the cease fire between the Sudanese government and the two rebels in Darfour. The African federation is leading a UN team composed of 120 observers to monitor the truce.

Further reading: June 21 Reuters: Sudan government team left Sudan on Monday to meet Darfur rebels in Paris. Hassan Burgo, a senior official from the ruling National Congress party, said talks with the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) were expected to last about one week and would cover "points of difference".

The JEM and another rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), launched an uprising in Darfur in February 2003, saying they wanted a fairer share of power and resources in Sudan, a poor country which produces oil. Both groups signed a truce with the government on April 8, but since then each side has accused the other of violations. Rebels accuse the government of arming Arab militias, known locally as Janjaweed, to loot and burn African villages in the arid area, where tension between Arab nomads and African farmers has often flared in the past but not into fullscale conflict.

"There is communication between the government and the political leadership of the rebels via mediators to bring us together for these talks," Burgo told Reuters. Burgo said the government would urge the return to Sudan of JEM's leaders, who are based in Europe.

Burgo said he did not expect a lot from the Paris talks. "I don't want people to attach too much importance to what will happen in Paris. It is a continuation of negotiations but the important thing is the ceasefire which was agreed upon and we are committed to," he said. Officials said the ruling party's secretary-general for Khartoum state, Al-Haj Atta al-Manan, was heading the government team and the talks were a continuation of discussions with the JEM first held in March.
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And said "the situation is as dangerous as we thought"

In Darfur on Tuesday, French envoy Muselier toured the Mornay camp where Sudanese authorities say 100,000 people have taken shelter from the separate conflict there. "The situation is as dangerous as we thought," Muselier said after his visit.
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Said Doctors without Borders in Darfur - on Monday

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Monday that "Khartoum-backed Sudanese janjawid militias", accused of conducting "ethnic cleansing" in Darfur, were terrorising the Mornay camp.

War broke out in Darfur in February 2003 when black African rebel groups, complaining of economic neglect of their region and a lack of protection for local people, rose up against the Sudanese government. Clashes between the Sudanese army and the rebels in Darfur have left at least 10 000 people dead and forced more than a million from their homes, according to UN estimates.

June 23 Geneva (AFP) Tehran Times: Sudan militias terrorise camp holding Darfur displaced -- Sudanese militias accused of conducting "ethnic cleansing" in the Darfur region are now terrorizing a camp holding tens of thousands who fled their attacks, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) –- Doctors Without Borders -- said Monday.
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French envoy meets Wednesday with SPLA leader John Garang

22 June News 24: Khartoum and rebels from the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA) are soon to sign a peace accord to end 20 years of civil war in southern Sudan that has claimed some 1.5 million lives and displaced four million people.

At yesterday's meeting, French envoy Muselier and Sudan's President Beshir discussed the situation in Darfur, the Sudanese peace process and the cooperation between Paris and Khartoum for development in the postwar period, French and Sudanese sources said.

Commenting on his meeting with Sudan's President Beshir, the French envoy said he had stressed the need to implement agreements signed in Chad to end the conflict in Darfur "and to eliminate all problems related to the practices of the janjawid (militias) and to create conditions that will allow displaced people to return to their homes as soon as possible".

Muselier is to meet SPLA leader John Garang today.
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French envoy donated three million euros for aid to Sudan

Senior French foreign ministry envoy Renaud Muselier signed an agreement to donate €3m in French aid to war-torn Sudan, during a meeting with Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir on Tuesday.

The agreement, signed between the French and Sudanese governments and the UN World Food Programme, will channel €3m to the western region of Darfur, one million to the south and the third to support school feeding.

"France is concerned about the ongoing efforts to bring about peace in Sudan," Muselier said after the meeting.
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For peace talks with Darfur rebels JEM and SLM

June 21 SudanTribune report excerpt (note I am unsure about this report - cannot find another report to cross check and verify):

"A Sudanese government delegation left for Germany Monday for peace talks with the representatives of the rebels in the western province of Darfur, a Cabinet minister said. The talks have been arranged by German mediators and should begin Tuesday in Berlin, Agriculture Minister Majzoub al-Khalifa Ahmad told reporters.

Ahmad didn't identify the mediators. In Berlin, the German Foreign Ministry said it had no scheduled meeting with a Sudanese government delegation. Previously the government and Darfur rebels have held talks in Switzerland sponsored by the Henry Dunant Center for Humanitarian Dialogue.

Tuesday's talks aim to "find a final solution to the Darfur crisis, stop the bloodshed and bring peace to the region," Ahmad said. The government delegation will be led by Ibrahim Omar, the secretary general of the ruling Congress Party, Ahmad said. The government and the two main rebel groups signed a cease-fire in April, but each side has accused the other of violating it."

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 6/23/2004
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