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News, March 2008


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Editorial Note: The following news reports are summaries from original sources. They may also include corrections of Arabic names and political terminology. Comments are in parentheses.


Sudan, Chad sign new peace deal on sidelines of Islamic summit in Dakar 2008-03-14 13:07:15  

    DAKAR, March 14 (Xinhua) --

Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmed el-Bashir and his Chadian counterpart Idriss Deby, after long hours of closed-door meetings, signed late Thursday a new peace deal aimed at ending years of hostility between the two neighboring countries.

    The deal, mediated by Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade and signed on the sidelines of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) summit, is the latest effort to achieve peace after Sudan and Chad have repeatedly breached a number of bilateral peace agreements and blamed each other for supporting the neighbor's rebels.

    The Dakar Accord reiterated the concerning parties' respect forthose peace deals respectively reached in Tripoli in February 2006,in Khartoum in August 2006, in Cannes in February 2007 and in Riyadh in May 2007.

    The deal called on the international community to adopt all necessary measures to set up a peace and security force to guard and observe the joint security operations in the Sudan-Chad border.

    A contact group will also be set up, according to the deal, to convene every month to track, monitor and implement the deal.

    The accord also pledges to ban all activities of armed groups and to ban the use of the other's territory for destabilization purposes.

    Those also present at the signing ceremony were UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former African Union (AU) Commission Chairman Oumar Konare, Tanzanian President and AU Chairman Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, Gabonese President Hadj Omar BongoOndimba, OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, and representatives from the European Union (EU), the United States and France.

    Sudanese Foreign Minister Deng Alor expressed his optimism for a Sudan-Chad peace after the signing ceremony.

    "This agreement is going to work," he told reporters. "This is the first time for the OIC to cooperate with the AU and the UN to bring two opposing countries to agreements, (and) this cooperation is very good," he said.

"We hope the summit will bring lasting peace to the African region, which unfortunately has been deeply affected for many years," said Wade, president of the talks' host country, when he first announced his plans to hold mediation talks in Dakar between his Chadian and Sudanese counterparts in a bid to restore peace.


    Sudan and Chad have been constantly blaming each other for supporting each other's rebel groups. Deby has accused the Sudanese authorities of arming rebels who launched a failed assault in early February on the Chadian capital of N'Djamena, while Sudan has often accused Chad of supporting Sudan's rebels in Sudan's western region of Darfur.

    Previously, Sudan and Chad have signed five peace agreements, all of which broke down and failed to end the bilateral tensions.

    Despite the applause and cheering atmosphere Thursday at Senegal's Presidential Palace in Dakar -- the venue of the ceremony, skepticism about whether the deal can indeed remove the long-standing mistrust that has derailed former deals, still lingered in the air.

    After all, the new deal did not come out as smoothly and easily as high expectations for reducing tension between the two neighbors have been twice dampened.

    The first was the failure of showing-up by el-Bashir at a scheduled signing ceremony late Wednesday due to his "headache as a result of long journey," which postponed the meeting of the two leaders to Thursday.

    A fresh exchange of accusations between N'Djamena and Khartoum earlier Thursday once again blocked a deal from being reached.

    On Thursday, the Chadian government accused Sudan of sending rebels across the borders into the Chadian territories Wednesday, a claim categorically dismissed by the Sudanese government. The latter said the Chadian accusation was aimed at undermining efforts being currently exerted in Dakar for achieving a reconciliation between the two countries.

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