Posted by: APO | 28 October 2007

Opening Remarks of AU Special Envoy Salim Ahmed Salim


STATEMENT BY DR SALIM AHMED SALIM, AU SPECIAL ENVOY FOR DARFUR AT THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE RENEWED NEGOTIATIONS TO END THE CONFLICT IN DARFUR: SIRTE, LIBYAN ARAB JAMAHIRIYA

27 OCTOBER, 2007

 

Brother Leader,

Chairperson Konare,

Distinguished Ministers and High level Representatives,

Brothers and Sisters from Sudan,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

It is both an honour and privilege to welcome you all to this important meeting. We are encouraged by the presence of so many personalities from our Continent and the larger international Community.

 

Today marks another milestone in our collective search for peace in Darfur. The journey has been long, arduous, and extremely challenging and the results from Abeche to Ndjamena, from Addis Ababa to Abuja and from Abuja to Sirte have been mixed. But today we are here in this historic city of Sirte for another new beginning.

This meeting is a result of collective and collaborative work of the African Union and the United Nations in partnership with the countries of the region namely: Libya, Chad, Eritrea and Egypt and with the full support of the international Community.

 

We are grateful to the Leader of Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Guide of the Revolution and the Libyan people for hosting this important meeting. The personal presence of Brother Ghaddafi at this meeting is a source of encouragement. It further testifies the commitment of this country to supporting efforts aimed at ending the conflict in Darfur. It is also in keeping with great traditions of this city in playing host to major events especially those relating to our Continent.

 

It is in Sirte that the historic declaration on the establishment of the African Union was proclaimed on 9.9.99 – a decision of monumental significance to the future of our Continent. Indeed only two days ago, an important agreement was signed here between the Government of Chad and the four armed opposition groups.

 

As we begin our meeting which signifies the commencement of the process of negotiations, we do so with great expectations that the positive spirit of Sirte and the active support of the Libyan People and the Guide of the revolution will impact positively on the negotiations.

 

The road to Sirte has been quite challenging. As Special Envoys of United Nations and the African Union, my friend and colleague Jan Eliasson and myself, have for the last nine months or so, been engaged in a series of serious constructive consultations with a broad range of Stakeholders. These consultations were carried out in Khartoum and various parts of Darfur. They involved both signatories and non-signatories of the DPA, tribal leaders, representatives of the IDPs, political parties, civil society, including women groups, intellectuals and others. We also consulted with regional countries and international partners.

 

Based on these consultations and talking into account those with leading personalities of the movements which were carried out in Ngurodoto in Arusha, the stage was set for our meeting here.

 

Clearly however, the most compelling reason for the start of these negotiations is the actual situation in Darfur where there has been an an escalation of violence manifested in many forms and made worse by the fragmentation of the Movements, inter-tribal fighting, attack on humanitarian workers; cowardly and criminal attacks on AMIS personnel and in some instances pure acts of banditry.

 

Our meeting here today is a timely opportunity to address these issues and what need to be done to reverse this tragic trend and build a new foundation for an end to the Conflict and the attainment of and sustainable peace.

 

The outcome that we seek is the one that will address concerns and grievances of people of Darfur including those in the IDPs and Refugee Camps by inter.alia creating conditions for them to go back to their lands in safety, security and hope. In the meantime, as we begin the process of negotiation it is imperative there be an immediate end to the hostilities. An end to the fighting – we can call it a truce – would not only provide relief to the people of Darfur but also create propitious conditions for negotiations. It will certainly be a major confidence building development.

 

Too many people in Darfur have suffered for too long. Even as we sit here, I keep asking myself, how many more people have to die for us to know that it is the right time to make peace in Darfur.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen

 

Today I say is a very clear voice to all our brothers and sisters in Darfur, enough is enough. Enough of the fighting and enough of the bloodshed. Let us not forget that what happens in Darfur, will sooner or later impact on the rest of the Sudan, the rest of the region and the rest of Africa. Sudan is a microcosm of African, as unique blend of race, culture and religious diversity. Sudan is a mini Africa, that is why we need to work to preserve the unity cohesion, integrity and territorial integrity of the Sudan based on justice and equity for all its people.

 

Given the enormity of the Challenges that lie ahead and the historic opportunity this Sirte process provides, it was our hope and expectation we would have the maximum participation from the movements. It is unfortunate that this has not been the case so far while we understand and recognize the importance of cohesion within the movements, and the fact that most of those who have chose not to come at this point have been motivated by the desire to achieve that objective through continued consultations, we believe that consultations can continue here as part of this process.

 

In any case we look forward to their participation as soon as possible.

 

In the meantime, we are gratified by the presence of the civil society and community leaders whose contribution, as major Stakeholders will clearly be invaluable.

 

I cannot end my statement without expressing my appreciation to our Regional Partners, Libya, Eritrea, Chad and Egypt and to our friends, in the international Community, as well as to the AU troop contributing countries in Darfur for their support to this process. The AU and the UN cannot impose peace in Darfur, but we are all Stakeholders, and we need to work together for the common good of all the people of Darfur, for the good of that man, that girl child, that boy and that elderly person in Darfur who continue to face an uncertain future. The people of Darfur and Sudan are waiting and watching, so is Africa and the international Community.

I am confident that we shall all live up to the great challenges before us.

Thank you.


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