AU peace panel committed to ending Darfur conflict

Thursday, April 2, 2009
By: 
Bathandwa Mbola

Khartoum - The African Union High-Level Panel on Darfur will do everything it can to speedily end the conflict there.

This is according to former South African President Thabo Mbeki, who arrived in Khartoum on Wednesday night as part of the African Union High-Level Panel on Darfur.

The panel met with representatives of Sudanese Political Parties, the Government and the Joint African Union/United Nations Mediation Team shortly after arrival.

"Everyone wants a long lasting solution to the conflict which must be characterised by peace and reconciliation which addresses such crimes as were committed during and in the context of the conflict as well as attending to matters of socio-economic development," said Mr Mbeki.

He stressed that the panel had an inclusive style of work and that no stakeholders would be left out.

"This is why we have developed such an intense work schedule which involves meeting all Sudanese stakeholders from morning until later in the night. This is an inclusive consultative process which aims to contribute to the search for a lasting solution."

Mr Mbeki will hold a series of talks with tribal leaders, displaced peoples' representatives, UN and AU peacekeepers, political parties and civil society representatives, as well as interact with other political players, civil society, representatives of multi-lateral institutions working in the Sudan and will conduct site visits to Darfur.

He is also scheduled to meet Sudanese government authorities, Darfur rebels and neighbouring states and submit a progress report to AU in the next four months. It was the AU which had mandated him to visit the country.

The AU established the AU panel for Darfur in March 2009 at its Addis Ababa summit, aimed at fighting impunity and ensuring accountability in the region

Mr Mbeki and his strong African eminent personalities Darfur panel have a three-pillar objective of expediting the peace process, installing justice and start reconciliation process among the warring parties in Sudan.

The conflict between rebels, government and allied Janjaweed militiamen in Darfur has led to an estimated 300 000 deaths since 2003 and forced 2.7 million people to flee their homes.

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has accused Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of orchestrating genocide and crimes against humanity.