Sudanese Rebels Re-Commit to Peace Negotiations

Lay Community Intervened to Save Peace Process

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ROME, MAY 15, 2005 ( The two main Sudanese rebel groups active in the region of Darfur, have committed themselves to re-launch peace negotiations with the government, reported the Community of Sant’Egidio.

After a meeting at the community’s headquarters in Rome, representatives of the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) released a statement Friday that said: “We make a solemn commitment to resume as soon as possible the Abuja negotiations under the auspices of the African Union without preconditions.”

The Abuja peace negotiations for peace in Darfur between the government of Sudan and these two armed rebel groups were interrupted December 2004 when the rebels left the negotiating table, held with the mediation of the African Union.

During a week of meetings organized by the lay movement, the two groups discussed the political implications caused by the interruption of negotiations.

They also drew up an agenda of political topics and adopted a common position on a great number of issues to be discussed with the Khartoum government.

“The desperate humanitarian situation, known by all, has been the backdrop of the talks these days, in which the determination has been confirmed to come speedily to a political solution of the conflict,” explained a representative of Sant’Egidio.

In their statement, the rebel leaders appeal strongly “to the international community to exert all efforts to maintain a favorable environment for the resumption and continuation of negotiations and support of the negotiating efforts by providing high level of representation and effective technical and political assistance.”

“We support the international community’s demand to strengthen the African peacekeepers and expand their mandate to include the protection of civilians,” they explained.

“We call upon the international community to ensure the flow of humanitarian aid to Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs) and refugees,” they said.

The rebels decided to “reconvene in Sant’Egidio whenever it will be needed, in order to strengthen the peace process.”

Finally, they asked the Community of Sant’Egidio “to gather the parties and to continue the facilitation efforts it has developed so effectively in these days.”

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