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Darfur Deal Faces Uncertain Future

Described as the last best hope for Darfur, the region's peace settlement is thrown into question by officials who worry over Sudan's instability and refugees who have little faith in the government. Margaret Warner reports from Sudan on the obstacles facing politicians and refugees before a peace deal can be achieved.

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  • RAY SUAREZ:

    Now, our update on efforts to secure the shaky peace accord reached last week for the Darfur section of Sudan. Margaret Warner has been in Sudan for a week and reports tonight from the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    In Khartoum's corridors of power, the talk this week has been about Darfur. Sudan's ruling National Congress Party has been conferring for days over the agreement the government signed in Nigeria one week ago to bring peace for its strife-torn western region.

    The man who negotiated and signed that agreement on behalf of the Sudan government is presidential adviser Majzoub al-Khalifa Ahmed. Between briefings with his colleagues, he told the NewsHour he's confident the deal will hold. Though two of Darfur's three main rebel factions refused to sign, what's important, he says, is that the most heavily armed faction is on board.

  • MAJZOUB AL-KHALIFA, Presidential Adviser:

    The main groups signed this agreement. They will be in control over the security situation in Darfur. The threats of violence will come to an end over a period in a very short time.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    The deal has been called the last, best hope for peace in Darfur, a region the size of France where more than 200,000 people have been killed and two million displaced in three years of violence.

    The agreement offers Darfur's rebels more involvement in governing their region and calls for their forces to stand down, be disarmed, and some integrated into the Sudanese army.

    But most important to the refugees, the deal commits the government of Sudan to disarm the Janjaweed militia, government-backed marauders on horseback who continued to murder, rape and terrorize villagers even during the peace talks.

    In the Sudanese capital, the government still denies any association with those militia.

  • MAJZOUB AL-KHALIFA:

    We are making peace on the side. And to make violence, killing, rape and that, and directed by the government? What a government can do that. Nothing of that at all. But there is a crisis in Darfur that is true, but there is a tribal conflict.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Earlier this week, recent arrivals at a refugee camp in south Darfur told us of coordinated attacks mounted jointly by the Sudanese military and the Janjaweed.

    In Darfur, just three days ago, I interviewed some women who had just been driven from a village two weeks ago, and they said that the attack was coordinated. They were government of Sudan forces and Janjaweed militias.

    Those stories have been repeated over and over. Are you saying those are just lies?

  • MAJZOUB AL-KHALIFA:

    What I can say is that there is no at all an official coordination between the government of Sudan force and the Janjaweed or other outlawed militia.

  • MARGARET WARNER:

    In any event, Majzoub says, the government will hold up its end of the deal by disarming the Janjaweed militia.

    If there are renegade tribes, or militias, or Janjaweed who do violate this and who do want to continue marauding around the countryside, will the government of Sudan take them on?

  • MAJZOUB AL-KHALIFA:

    The government is committed to address this seriously, according to the law, and to disarm them, and to bring them to justice. This is our sovereignty, and this is our responsibility. We're not going to hesitate at all.

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