Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Days after the UN and African Union condemned as unacceptable the
bombings of villages and markets in Darfur by Sudanese government
planes, at least 13 people were reported killed in an attack on a
primary school and market in North Darfur state.
The 3-4 May
bombing of the school in Shegeg Karo by Antonov planes occurred while
classes were in session, according to a statement from Darfur Diaries, an NGO that funds the educational centre.
Gen Martin Luther Agwai, commander of the UN-AU force in Darfur (UNAMID),
on 2 May condemned bombings in Umm Sidir, Ein Bassar and Shegeg Karo.
The attacks, he said, had compounded the extent of displacement,
insecurity and untold human suffering.
The UN said the
targeted areas were controlled by the Sudan Liberation Army, which have
witnessed "repeated aerial attacks and possible fighting between
government and rebel forces during the course of the last few days".
latest violence casts doubt on the viability of the Darfur Peace
Agreement, signed two years ago after the final round of negotiations
between rebel factions and the Sudanese government.
provides for disarmament and a framework for wealth- and power-sharing.
It awarded rebel signatories the fourth-highest office in government
and created buffer zones around internally displaced persons and
humanitarian assistance corridors.
At the last minute, however, only one of the three rebel groups then in existence signed the Abuja accord.
DPA] did not make any positive difference in terms of peace and
stability and security in the Darfur region, and many would argue that
in some ways the DPA made things worse," Laurie Nathan, a member of the
AU mediation team in Abuja, Nigeria, told IRIN.
other things, [the DPA] led to a fragmentation of the rebel movements,"
he said, referring to the fracturing of the three main groups into more
than 28 separate factions, all vying for the status of negotiating
Nathan also said the failure of the DPA "made some of the rebel groups mistrustful of peace negotiations".
an effort to revitalise the peace process, the UN and AU appointed Jan
Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim as special envoys in December 2006.
However, the rebels have yet to come to the negotiating table - only
seven groups attended the latest negotiations in Sirte, Libya, in
"There is no question that [the current
mediation team] have understood the great and terrible need for
patience; that simply writing an agreement for the parties, when the
parties are not committed to the agreement, will get us absolutely
nowhere," said Nathan.
Sources from the negotiating team
said both Eliasson and Salim were engaging in shuttle diplomacy to
break the mistrust among rebel groups.
Theodore Murphy, a Darfur expert at the Geneva-based Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue
mediation group, told IRIN that "in some sense, this is a step
backwards, but it is a step forward in that it can break down the
barriers between the groups right now".
After this is accomplished, he said, "they might accept to sit and talk with one another".
society and Arab groups, who were largely ignored during the first
peace process, have been incorporated into current negotiations to
encourage wider involvement in the process.
"This sector of
Darfurians has no other option but to fight for its rights peacefully,"
Hasan Isan Hasan, who represented civil society at the Sirte
negotiations, said. "The people of Darfur support the negotiations and
will continue to, just because ... there is no other way for
Role of UNAMID
status of the DPA, however, remains unclear. While rebel groups have
continued to reject it, the government maintains any future
negotiations should be built within the framework of the original
Abdel Wahid Mohammed al-Nur, the influential
exiled leader of the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Abdel Wahid, refused
to take part in the latest negotiations in Sirte. He cited insecurity
in Darfur and lack of complete deployment of the hybrid peacekeeping
operation for the boycott.
UNAMID took over operations from the AU peacekeeping force on 1 January and will have a projected strength of 26,000 personnel.
to Rodolphe Adada, the UN-AU Joint Special Representative for Darfur,
current deployment of UNAMID stands at only 40 percent, and the force
is unlikely to be fully deployed until 2009.
has been delayed by lack of logistics, including transport and attack
helicopters, and disagreements with the government over the composition
of the force.
"UNAMID is a peacekeeping mission," Adada said, "and peacekeepers need a peace to keep."
Ahmed Salim had said: "If UNAMID can be in a position to be fully
deployed, be properly equipped and be able to function with the
cooperation of the parties, it will have a major effect in finding a
negotiable solution to the crisis."
sentiments, Eliasson added: "There is a very concrete function to
increased UNAMID presence in Darfur, and that is the monitoring and
verification of the cessation of hostilities agreement that we hope
will be part of the beginning of the talks."
Source: IRIN NEWS http://irinnews.org