Sudan: UN envoy has 'good reason to believe' rebel military will accept accord

The top United Nations for Sudan today voiced hope that rebel forces on the ground in the strife-torn Darfur region would accept a preliminary agreement between the Government and rebel factions aimed at ending a two-year-old war that has killed at least 180,000 people and displaced nearly 2 million others.
Returning from a two-day visit to North Darfur and El-Fasher, where he met with rebel military leaders, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative Jan Pronk said he had "good reason to believe that the Abuja process is supported at the field level."

Earlier this month in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, the Government of Sudan, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) signed a Declaration of Principles for the Resolution of the Conflict in Darfur.

Mr. Pronk will now intensify his meetings with the SLM and, if possible, the JEM at the field level, with a visit to South Darfur in August, to keep the parties informed of preparations for the next round of Abuja discussions on 24 August.

Tomorrow, he will travel to Asmara, capital of neighbouring Eritrea, which hosts Sudanese rebel groups, for talks with Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki.

UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) Civil Affairs officers have conducted several interviews in markets in El-Fasher to gauge public opinion on the Abuja agreement. In general people welcomed the signing with optimism but there are some concerns that the process will take too long to implement, which would extend their suffering.