The Darfur deadlock

GOING by the chronology of uneventful efforts to salvage the situation in Dafrur, the UN brokered rebel movement talks in Tanzania, though appreciated, are not very likely to present a clear way out of the deadlock.

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Published: Sun 5 Aug 2007, 8:31 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:51 AM

For one thing, absence of two crucial rebel leaders, one deliberate and the other because of certain arrest upon movement in Sudan, means the gathering will be fractured at best. And with too many conflicts even within the discussing groups already calling their ability to reach consensus into question, few expect much concrete to emerge from the three-day talks.

Secondly, reports from close to the conflict indicate an added dimension to the quagmire. Much of the recent killing has involved Arab militias, a departure from the four-year trend which saw pro-government Arab Janjaweed militias rout out the region’s black African population. The situation has been critical even though the UN has stopped short of dubbing it genocide.

The infighting among bands of mercenaries formerly armed by the government is a double-edged sword for the peace talks. While it puts the centre on the back foot to come round to agreeing to peace, it also limits its authority to pass a final verdict for fear of reprisal attacks from within its ranks.

The latest developments amount to further confusion in a situation that is already threatening to spill over into the rest of the region, with catastrophic results. The UN is right in taking whatever steps possible to pressure Khartoum to end the violence. But the international community, particularly the powerful West, needs to do considerably more lest there is a bloodbath on a scale that would pale the last half-decade’s killings in comparison. Darfur’s deadlock needs breaking, which will not materialise without considerable international political weight.

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