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Negotiations for Darfur Peace Extended in Nigeria

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

Here, a spokesman, Noureddine Mezni.

NOUREDDINE MEZNI: We are optimistic that by Tuesday evening we can say that we'll be able to achieve the peace and to have that agreement signed by the parties. This will really alleviate the suffering of the population in Darfur.

MONTAGNE: And, the effort to end this crisis has been going on for two years. Do you have any hopes for these talks? The spokesman obviously is quite optimistic, but from your point of view, what?

OFEIBEA QUIST: And the key issues are wealth distribution, power sharing, and security. And integration of the Janjaweed militia--that's the pro-Sudanese proxy militiamen who are fighting in Darfur--whether they are gong to be in the army or not, or how they will be disarmed. Those are the key issues that have not been resolved.

MONTAGNE: Now, Ofeibea, we hear a lot about the Janjaweed and we hear a lot about the fighting, but very little about the rebels there in Darfur and what they want. Talk to us about that.

QUIST: And, of course, Sudan is an oil-producing country, so wealth distribution and wealth share is a very important factor these days.

MONTAGNE: And last month, the violence in Darfur spilled across the border into Chad. Is this a wider conflict that is going to continue?

QUIST: The fact that now you have 200,000 Sudanese Darfur refugees across the border in refugee camps in Chad, and 55,000-plus Chadians now displaced, who say they're being attacked by the pro-Sudanese Janjaweed militia. And then, you have the quarrel between Sudan and Chad, with the Sudanese accusing the Chadians of backing the Darfur rebels, and the Chadians accusing the Sudanese of supporting Chadian rebels, who are trying to overthrow the Chadian president.

MONTAGNE: So as these talks drag on, the plight of Darfur's refugees worsens. The U.N.'s World Food Programme just announced it was cutting in half the food that it was handing out to these refugees. Is the end to this crisis in sight?

QUIST: And add to all of that, donor fatigue. It looks as if the rations to the civilian refugees are going to be cut because people have got their eyes off the Darfur crisis. So you hear that the U.S. called it genocide almost two years ago, but people say, action--what is happening? These people need to be helped, and need to be helped now.

MONTAGNE: Ofeibea, thanks very much.

QUIST: Always a pleasure.

MONTAGNE: NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Renee Montagne, one of the best-known names in public radio, is a special correspondent and host for NPR News.
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton is an award-winning broadcaster from Ghana and is NPR's Africa Correspondent. She describes herself as a "jobbing journalist"—who's often on the hoof, reporting from somewhere.