Darfur Talks in Flux as Rebel Groups Split

The government of Sudan and the largest of three rebel groups reportedly accept a peace accord for the troubled Darfur region. But two smaller rebel groups reject the plan, leaving the status of the talks in peril.

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JOHN YDSTIE, Host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm John Ydstie.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

The government of Sudan has reached a peace agreement with the main rebel group fighting for control of the troubled Darfur region. Two smaller rebel groups have not agreed to the plan, which has been the focus of intense high-level negotiations between the warring factions, leaders of the African Union, and western diplomats.

Alex de Waal is a fellow of the Global Equity Initiative at Harvard University. He's advising the African Union at the talks in Nigeria's capital, Abuja. He says negotiations are still--negotiators are still trying to persuade at least one of the holdouts to join the agreement.

Dr. ALEX DE WAAL (Fellow, Global Equity Initiative, Harvard University; Advisor to African Union): This is an agreement that provides three main elements. It provides for a much greater representation of Darfurians in the government of Sudan, and especially members of the rebel movements in that government. It provides a very extensive package for compensation--rebuilding, reconstruction, return of refugees (unintelligible). It probably, most importantly, has a very far-reaching security provision, including disarming the Janjaweed, a cease-fire, a demilitarization of camps of displaced people and humanitarian supply routes.

MONTAGNE: Alex de Waal says the agreement is a significant step toward ending the violence in western Sudan, where tens of thousands have been killed and millions displaced in the last three years.

Dr. DE WAAL: It's the end of Darfur's troubles, there's still a very, very long way to go in terms of controlling the numerous armed groups; in terms of getting the U.N. (unintelligible) in on the ground--but that is now possible.

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