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Tuesday, September 28, 2004

BBC NEWS | Africa | Lubbers set for new Darfur talks

BBC NEWS | Africa | Lubbers set for new Darfur talks: "Lubbers set for new Darfur talks
By Mark Doyle
BBC world affairs correspondent in Chad and Sudan


UN refugee commissioner Ruud Lubbers is due to meet top Sudanese officials on Tuesday to discuss what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
After a rebellion in Darfur region, pro-government Arab militias conducted a scorched-earth policy forcing over a million people to flee their homes.
Mr Lubbers' meetings with Sudanese government officials could be stormy.
He began his trip to central Africa with a controversial suggestion for a solution in a BBC interview.
He said one answer to the refugee crisis might be limited autonomy for the Darfur region within a unitary Sudanese state.
Cautious welcome
The logic of the suggestion seemed to be that this might accommodate some of the rebels complaints about marginalisation from power - the reason, they say they started the war.
In public, some Sudanese officials cautiously welcomed this idea.
But it is understood that in private some others were extremely irritated and questioned what right the refugee boss had to make clearly political suggestions about power-sharing in Sudan.
The Sudanese government says the refugee crisis in Darfur was caused by the original rebellion by ethnic African rebels which had to be dealt with.
But the United Nations and the United States have condemned the scorched earth tactics adopted by the authorities in Khartoum. "

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