Peace talks to continue in Darfur after weekend elections AUUN official stresses

8 April 2010The joint African Union-United Nations chief mediator for Darfur confirmed today that negotiations aimed at generating a comprehensive peace deal to end the ongoing conflict in the western Sudanese region will continue after Sudanese vote in national elections starting this Sunday. “The Mediation earnestly calls on the parties to fully comply with the declared ceasefire with a view to promoting confidence among the parties, improving the security and humanitarian conditions in Darfur, creating an environment conducive to negotiations and alleviating the sufferings of the population in Darfur,” Djibril Bassolé said in a statement released jointly with Ahmed Bin Abdullah Al-Mahmoud, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in Qatar. In the statement, Mr. Bassolé and Mr. Al-Mahmoud welcomed the Framework Agreement signed between the Sudanese Government and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in late February in Doha, Qatar. They also welcomed the Framework Agreement and Ceasefire Agreement between the Government and another rebel group, the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), signed last month.The signing of the agreements represents a “quantum leap” and a “crucial phase of the ongoing Doha peace process,” the statement noted.Last month, Ibrahim Gambari, the Joint Special Representative of the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), described the agreement with the LJM as “another important milestone” on the path towards a comprehensive peace pact in Darfur and said it would have an important impact on the security of people on the ground. Darfur, a region roughly the size of Spain, has been torn by war since 2003, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 300,000 people and the displacement of 2.7 million others. In addition to the conflict in Darfur, Sudan face tensions between its northern and southern regions.The upcoming elections, the first of their kind in 24 years in Sudan, are seen as a benchmark in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which was signed in 2005 to end the long-running north-south civil war. Voting is due to start on Sunday.The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), which works independently of UNAMID, has been providing technical and logistical support to the Government and the National Elections Commission (NEC) to enable timely conduct of the elections. read more

Missing persons panel chairman rebuts Zeid

“What more can we do?,” he asked in anguish. “Nobody else can do better than us. People should realize the enormity of the task. It takes time to show results,” he said.When former President Mahinda Rajapaksa established the panel, its mandate was only to go into disappearances. Later, when war crimes charges were made in the UNHRC, it was charged with investigating violations of International Human Rights and International Humanitarian Laws in the last phase of the war. Since work on the second mandate is still to be completed, the term of the commission has been extended to February 2016. However, the panel submitted a report to the Presidential Secretariat on August 15 this year. Paranagama said that a Special Investigating Team is to be formed under a retired High Court judge to go into some cases. “We also sent investigating teams to the complainants’ houses as a follow up measure and wrote to them about progress made in their cases. We inquired into the rehabilitation aspect and took action wherever the authorities were tardy in their response,” he added. Responding to the UN Human Rights High Commissioner Prince Zeid’s call to disband the Sri Lankan Missing Persons’ Commission and assign its work to a more credible body, the chairman of the panel, Justice Maxwell Paranagama, contended that nobody else can do the job better.“We have been very transparent in our functioning. There were no armed forces or police personnel in the room where people testified. We held several sittings in the Tamil-speaking North and East and Colombo and examined 19,000 people including 16,000 from the North and East. The response to our call for testimonies was so good that if we sent out notices to 300 for a session, 1000 would turn up, and no one was turned away. Transport was arranged for people to go back to their villages if the sittings went late into the evening,” Paranagama told the New Indian Express. “We are waiting for President Sirisena to come back from New York to officially present it to him,” Paranagama said. read more