Thursday, July 03, 2008

New Sudan Mediator Eyes Breakthrough

New Sudan mediator eyes breakthrough


OUAGADOUGOU--The new joint United Nations and African Union mediator for Darfur yesterday said he hoped to "strike a balance" in resolving the crisis in western Sudan.

"Of course, we hope to strike a balance. As one often says in an exercise of this kind, no one can win everything, but neither should anyone have to accept losing everything," Djibril Bassole told the state-run Burkina Faso daily Sidwaya the day after his nomination.

Bassole, who is Burkina Faso’s foreign minister, said in the same interview that he would first make contact with the various players in the crisis "to better understand" them and the situation and "identify the difficulties."

He said his mission would only be complete once a total peace agreement had been reached.

In the same newspaper, Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore expressed support for his minister and wished him every success in fulfilling the mission.

"It is a difficult issue but I think it is also our responsibility as Africans to play a high-level role," said Compaore, who is helping to mediate the crisis in neighbouring Ivory Coast.

Bassole (51), will be based in El-Facher, the administrative centre in northern Darfur which is the headquarters of UNAMID, the joint United Nations and African Union peacekeeping force.

The decision to nominate a permanent mediator for Darfur had been expected for several months.

Critics had accused the previous UN envoy Jan Eliasson and his AU counterpart Salim Ahmed Salim of not spending enough time in Sudan.

Both envoys had called for a joint mediator to be based full-time in the African country.

The UN-brokered peace process on Darfur has stalled ever since talks in Libya last October were boycotted by key rebel factions.

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