China's special envoy visits Darfur

By Qiang Pen (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-05-24 06:55

The newly-appointed Chinese special envoy to Africa said the Darfur peace process should be two-pronged - persuade those who have not signed the peace agreement to return to the negotiating table and strengthen the joint peacekeeping operation of the African Union and the United Nations.

"The two tracks can run parallel and be mutually complementary," Liu Guijin said, stressing the importance of respecting Sudan's unity, sovereignty and independence.

Liu made a fact-finding trip on Tuesday to the western Sudanese region of Darfur and visited the biggest refugee camp in North Darfur.

He arrived in Sudan on Saturday on his first visit to the country since he was appointed to the post of the Chinese special representative earlier this month.

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Liu also delivered a speech at the Legislative Council of North Darfur state, which has some two dozen new members belonging to the faction of the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), which has signed a peace agreement with the government.

"The situation in Sudan has become better after the SLM signed a peace deal with the Sudanese government, but sporadic conflicts still happen, especially along the border between Chad and Sudan, where many different ethnic groups and nationalities live intermingled," Wang Yingying, director of the department of African studies, China Institute of International Studies, told China Daily yesterday.

But the final solution to the Darfur issue lies in removing or reducing the mistrust between the Sudanese government and some Western countries, especially the United States, Wang said.

"Washington thinks that the current Sudanese government is supportive of terrorism and autocratic; and wants Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir to be replaced by someone who could speak for its interests," she said.

At the same time, el-Bashir thinks that if he follows every step demanded by Washington, it will lead to the collapse of his government.

"That is why the Sudanese government demands that the hybrid (African and UN) peacekeeping forces be commanded by an African.

"Wherever there are conflicts, people die; so the question is what measures we are going to take to stop the violence, instead of overthrowing the current government," Wang said.

"You cannot bring peace to the country by simply overthrowing the current government. Iraq is an example which shows how sanctions and military actions could lead nowhere," she said.

"The United States did overthrow the government of Saddam Hussein, but peace seems to have drifted even further away from Iraqi people," she added.

The fact that the Sudanese government has accepted the second phase of former UN chief Kofi Annan's peace plan reflects that progress can only be achieved by sincere negotiations and compromises from all sides, she said.

(China Daily 05/24/2007 page2)

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