DARFUR: Peace talks between the government and rebel leaders are due to start in Tripoli next month, but if the voices on the ground are to be believed there seems little hope of progress. The members of the Fur tribe I have been meeting in camps such as Abu Shouk, near El Fasher, are pretty clear that Libya is the wrong place to hold talks. Gadaffi has at different times backed a policy of Arabisation in Darfur and has continually sought to destabilise chunks of Africa for his own ends. Tripoli is anything but an honest broker.
At the same time, rebel commanders I met close to the town of Kutum in north Darfur say they are worried about a build-up of Government of Sudan (GoS) troops and militias close to their positions. They say their man, Abdelwahid Mohammed Nur, will not attend the talks until an international force is deployed to protect then from GoS advances.
The problem is that the talks now are the only option on the table and there is a real danger – just as in last year’s Abuja talks – that growing international pressure is looking for a solution, any solution, whether it’s the right one or not. Anne Bartlett, of the Darfur Centre for Human Rights and Development, seems to get it.