The head of the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping endeavour met with government authorities in Darfur to discuss the peace process, currently in effect in the troubled west Sudanese region. Discussions were led by UN-African Union Joint Special Representative in Darfur, Ibrahim Gambari, Sudanese Presidential Advisor Ghazi Salahuddin Atabaani, AU High Level Implementation Panel chairman Thabo Mbeki and Scott Gration, the United States Special Envoy for Sudan. The men agreed that an all encompassing strategy was imperative to initiating stability, security and development in Darfur.
The meeting follows a call from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, on August 9th, for conflicting Darfurian groups to put an end to their volatile clashes. Government forces had been embroiled in a series of violent encounters with rebel group, the Justice and Equality Mission (JEM), who had recently withdrawn from peace talks in Qatar. Rebel group the Sudan Liberation Movement of Abdel Wahid also boycotted the talks. At present, an estimated 2.7 million Dafurians live as internally displaced persons (IDPs) – a term describing an individual who has fled from their homes but continues to live inside their country’s boarders – or as refugees in neighbouring countries, because of the ongoing conflict.
The officials asserted that UNAMID, the African Union and United Nations operation in Darfur, would work closely with the Sudanese government, in the hope that a closer relationship would effectively abate current tension. Gration added that UNAMID and the Sudanese military and police would enjoy a committed and cooperative relationship. While former South African President, Mbeki, stressed the importance of involving Darfurians in the peace process.