Top UN official voices concern over participation in Darfur peace talks

08:43, May 21, 2010      

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The top United Nations official in Darfur voiced his concern Thursday over the Darfur peace negotiations, citing that the key rebel group in the region has "decided to suspend its participation."

"I think the window of opportunity is shutting," the head of the joint African Union-UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) Ibrahim Gambari told reporters here after he briefed the Security Council on the situation.

"What is more worrying is that the fact that JEM (Justice and Equality Movement) has decided to suspend its participation in Doha," Gambari said.

Highlighting concerns over the clashes between the government of Sudan and JEM, Gambari said "the hope is that JEM will still nonetheless return to the negotiation table."

In recent months, the Sudanese government has entered into ceasefire agreements in the Qatari capital Doha with major rebel groups, which include JEM.

JEM signed a peace framework with Khartoum in February but later "froze" further peace talks.

Qatar's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ahmed bin Abdullah al-Mahmoud said after a Sunday meeting with the Sudanese government negotiators that invitations would be sent to the concerned parties for a face-to-face talk.

Al-Mahmoud said the Sudanese government negotiators had reiterated Khartoum's desire to continue negotiations for a comprehensive peace in the conflicts-plagued western Sudanese region.

As a mediator of the Darfur peace process, Doha has brokered several rounds of talks between Khartoum and rebel groups in the past years.



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