Nigerian President Olusegun Oba-sanjo has invited Sudanese government and rebel negotiators to Nigeria to resume talks to end the conflict in Sudan's western Darfur region that has led to the slaughter of tens of thousands, an African Union spokesman said. \nMeanwhile, John Garang, the leader of southern Sudan's main rebel group, which is locked in a separate conflict with the government, offered to provide 10,000 troops as peacekeepers who could work alongside government forces to help resolve the Darfur crisis. \nObasanjo, in his capacity as African Union chairman, asked the Sudanese government and two rebel groups to attend negotiations in the Nigerian capital Abuja starting Aug. 23 after earlier talks in the Ethiopia capital Addis Ababa failed, African Union spokesman Desmond Orjiako said. \n"It is a follow-up to the political dialogue which failed because the armed opposition walked out on the government side. The agenda [for the negotiations] will be determined in Abuja," Orjiako said on Sunday by telephone from Addis Ababa. \nHe said he did not know how long the talks will last or whether the Chadian government, who have been co-mediators with the African Union, were invited. \nOn July 17, mediators indefinitely suspended talks to end the 18-month conflict -- which has forced over a million people to flee their homes -- after rebels walked out, saying the Sudanese government had ignored existing peace agreements. \nObasanjo issued the invitation after consulting with both sides because rebels had earlier expressed reservations about Ethiopia as a suitable venue for negotiations given the country's close relationship with Sudan, Orjiako said. \nWhen the Chadian government and the African Union began mediating between the two parties in March, a cease-fire agreement was reached in April to allow easier access to Darfur for humanitarian organizations, but resolving the political problems of Darfur has been more difficult. \nAn African Union commission monitoring the cease-fire agreement, however, has reported violations by both sides. \nSpeaking during a visit by US Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to Ntinga, a town in southern Sudan, Garang said a resolution to the Darfur crisis might come faster if talks were moved to Kenya where separate negotiations between the Sudanese government and the southern rebels have reached an advanced stage. \nThe Darfur violence is unrelated to the 21-year rebellion in southern Sudan, but Garang has warned that conflicts elsewhere in the country could threaten any peace agreement his group reaches with the government. \nOne of the Darfur rebel groups, the Sudanese Liberation Army, and Garang's Sudan People's Liberation Army are members of a Sudanese opposition grouping that maintains a headquarters in neighboring Eritrea. \nGarang also proposed a 30,000-strong peacekeeping force to "prevent genocide" in Darfur. \nHe said a third of the force could consist of Sudanese army troops, while his group and international forces, preferably under the auspices of the African Union, would each provide a third of the force. \n"This is to show the people that nobody is invading Sudan," Garang said, addressing the Sudanese government's disapproval of suggestions that countries like the UK could contribute peacekeeping troops for a multinational force in Darfur. \nGarang did not say whether he had discussed his proposals with the Sudanese government or the Darfur rebels. None were immediately available for comment. \nFrist made no comment on Garang's proposals. \nDescribed by the United Nations as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, the conflict in Darfur has killed 30,000 people and left an estimated 2.2 million people in urgent need of food, medicine and other basics. \nDarfur's troubles stem from long-standing tensions between nomadic Arab tribes and their African farming neighbors over dwindling water and agricultural land. \nThose tensions exploded into violence in February last year when two African rebel groups took up arms over what they regard as unjust treatment by the government in their struggle with Arab countrymen. \nThe rebels and the refugees accuse the government of arming and providing air support to the Arab militias known as Janjaweed, who have torched hundreds of villages in a scorched earth policy human rights groups equate with ethnic cleansing. The government denies any involvement in the militia attacks.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
SHOW OF SOLIDARITY: The publisher’s ‘Apple Daily’ newspaper has had to raise the number of copies printed from 70,000 to 550,000 to meet a huge surge in demand They have occupied Hong Kong’s central business district, marched by the hundreds of thousands through the territory’s streets and endured tear gas and pepper spray in pitched battles with riot police. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy supporters are now wielding a new protest weapon: their stock-market trading accounts. To show support for Jimmy Lai (黎智英), the publisher and outspoken government critic who was on Monday arrested under the territory’s new national security legislation, Hong Kongers have been piling into shares of his media company Next Digital. The result: a more than 1,100 percent surge in two days that propelled the stock to a seven-year