Posted by: APO | 27 October 2007

Statement by the AU Special Envoy, Salim Ahmed Salim

Statement by the AU Special Envoy, Salim Ahmed Salim,

Upon Arrival at Sirte Airport on 25 October 2007

Near-verbatim Transcript



We are happy to be in Sirte. This is a historic city. It is the city that produced the African Union. I was here in 1999, when the declaration of the establishment of the AU was issued.


We think, with this history in mind, everyone will do their best to ensure the talks succeed.


The reality is that we spent the last eight months, Jan Eliasson and I, representing the UN and the AU, consulting extensively with the movements, consulting with the Government of Sudan, Civil Society, representatives of IDPs and traditional leaders.


The objective here is to try to create conditions, when the talks begin, with the understanding and support of the Sudanese people. Clearly, the talks will start on Saturday.


It is unfortunate that not all of them will be here but I think that our brothers of the movements will reflect and know that this is the time.


We had hoped naturally that all the principal parties will be here. It seems, tired of what is going on. The suffering that is going on in Darfur is absolutely unacceptable. The killings are unacceptable; the conditions of Darfurians in IDP camps are also unacceptable. Leaders of the factions and movements should know this. Their presence here is important in terms of finding a way out.


What is the alternative? The alternative is the continuation of carnage, the continuation of conflict. All the parties admit that the military solution cannot be the solution for the conflict. The GOS admit the military solution cannot be the solution. When you talk to the movements, either collectively or individually, they admit that the military solution is not the solution.


So, what is the solution? To sit down as Sudanese, as Darfurians and negotiate.


We, of the United Nations, of the African Union, of the international community, can only facilitate. But the ultimate responsibility of peace in Darfur lies with the people of Darfur.


The movements have an important role to play. The government has an important role to play. But the government and the movements are not the only stakeholders. We have other stakeholders. We are going to have representatives of civil society, representatives of traditional leaders, and representatives of women groups and so on. This is definitely an important development. Sirte is an opportunity for all Darfurians of all political affiliations, of all movements to sit down as Sudanese and as Darfurians and discuss about their destiny.


We have learnt from the experience of Abuja, where we confined our discussions only to the government and to the movements, at that time the Sudan Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement. The people as a whole have a stake in what happens in Sudan. And the civil society in particular has a very important role to play. Our objective is that, at the end of the day, the agreement that comes out, whether it takes weeks or days or months, is an agreement that the people of Darfur can take ownership of.



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