AFRICANGLOBE – Sudan’s government and rebels in war-torn Blue Nile and South Kordofan states have until April 30 to reach a peace deal, the African Union warned Wednesday.
The AU’s peace and security council said in a statement it had called on its negotiators “to assist the parties to reach an agreement by April 30”, although it made no mention of possible penalties should the two warring sides continue to disagree.
Talks, which began last month in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa after more than a year’s break, have made slow progress.
A second round broke off on March 2 after only two days of meetings, with both sides blaming the other.
Rebels from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) have been fighting in South Kordofan and Blue Nile for nearly three years, a war which has affected over one million civilians, according to the United Nations.
Like the decade-old insurgency in Sudan’s western Darfur region, the conflict has been fuelled by complaints among non-Arab minorities of neglect and discrimination by the Arab-dominated regime.
“There can be no military solution to the conflict,” the AU added. “There is no alternative… than engaging in direct negotiations towards a comprehensive political settlement.”
In Other News: Darfur Back In Crisis
Violence has returned in the Darfur region of Sudan years after the world’s attention was drawn by the genocide that took place against Africans by the Janjaweed Arab militia backed by the Khartoum government.
The Darfur troubles began when mainly African tribes took up arms in 2003 against the Arab-led government in Khartoum, which they accused of discrimination and marginalisation.
The joint United Nations and African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur, known as UNAMID has been deployed in the region since 2007.
But several months after clashes simmered down, hostilities have returned to the region.
Civilians have been killed in Darfur in recent weeks since fighting between rebels and security forces resumed in January.
“Despite the presence of one of the largest peacekeeping operations in the world, civilians in Darfur continue to be targeted, terrorised, displaced, and killed.
“The government of Sudan’s proxies and other armed groups continue to attack civilians in Darfur,” Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations was quoted saying in a statement issued during a closed-door meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Darfur.
According to reports by envoys and journalists in the region, Khartoum has obstructed peacekeepers from protecting vulnerable civilians.
Sudan President and war criminal Omar Hassan al-Bashir has since been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for allegedly war masterminding genocide and other war crimes in Darfur.
Despite an arrest warrant for al-Bashir, rebellions, U.S. trade sanctions, an economic crisis and an attempted coup al-Bashir remains in power.
Observers say al-Bashir has resumed the killings in Darfur.
Power asked UN troops to be more aggressive in their efforts to protect civilian populations after Sudanese police killed a student in Khartoum who was taking part in a protest over the Darfur bloodshed.
Continued violence in the region, including recent clashes in North Darfur has displaced approximately 120,000 people since January.
The conflict has killed as many as 300,000 people and displaced two million, according to the United Nations.
“We call on all armed groups, including paramilitary groups supported by the government of Sudan, to end all violent attacks and join in political dialogue aimed at achieving a peaceful, comprehensive resolution to the conflicts in Sudan,” Power said.
The UN Security Council on Wednesday called for greater force mobility and an expanded patrol footprint as well as more rigorous training.
By: Konye Obaji Ori
The Continued Arab Genocide Against Africans In Darfur