A new round of Darfur peace talks is to begin in the Nigeria capital Abuja on Tuesday after a delay caused by splits in the troubled western Sudanese region's main rebel group, the African Union (AU) said Monday.
A statement from the pan-African body said the seventh round of AU-sponsored negotiations aimed at ending the 33-month-old Darfur conflict would be attended by representatives of the Government of National Unity of the Sudan, the Justice and Equality Movement ( JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) in addition to the Chadian co-mediation.
The 7th round of inter-Sudanese peace talks on Darfur is scheduled to open on Tuesday in Abuja, Nigeria at 4 p.m., the AU said in the statement.
The talks had been due to start on November 21 but were postponed for "logistical reasons" amid a leadership rift in the rebel SLM.
The announcement came two days after two rival leaders of the rebel movement pledged to work together on the seventh round of peace talks with Khartoum in Nigeria.
Both Minni Arkoi Minawi and Abdelwahed Mohamed al-Nur claim the presidency of the SLM and the fracture in the rebel group has been one of the main problems holding back progress in the six previous rounds of talks.
"The leadership of the SLM committed themselves to go the Abuja talks with one common negotiation platform," said the statement.
It said the factions had agreed to set up a joint committee to draft this common platform, and another joint committee "to consider ways and means to achieve total reconciliation of the SLM leadership."
Since the last round which ended on October 20, efforts have been made by the AU mediation and international partners to overcome the divisions within SLM leadership.
AU special envoy and chief mediator Salim Ahmed Salim commended these efforts and expressed his satisfaction with the fact that both al-Nur and Minawi of SLM are already in Abuja to attend this new round of peace talks, the AU statement said.
It is the hope of the AU mediation as well as the international partners that this round will be a decisive one as affirmed by the parties at the end of the sixth round, it added.
The conflict in Darfur has so far caused thousands of deaths and sent over a million fleeing to neighboring Chad or internally displaced.