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Al-Bashir's Darfur Tour Highlights Importance of Development in Solving Crisis
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A rare three-day tour of Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir in Sudan's Darfur highlighted the importance of economic and social development in the region in a bid to solve Darfur crisis, the official SUNA news agency reported on Tuesday.

The government gives top priority to development in Darfur, calling on all the region's citizens to unite for their own development and to protect security and stability in the region, SUNA said when commenting on the president's addresses in Darfur's three states.

The president's three-day tour in Darfur affirmed that security and stability had prevailed in most parts of the region, strengthening the confidence of the Sudanese people in the peace process, it noted.

"The visit which has been given top concern from media on the international and regional levels, is considered as great support to the peace process in the region and warmly welcomed by Darfur citizens," SUNA said.

During the tour from Saturday to Monday, the Sudanese resident, accompanied by Mini Arkou Minawi, the chairman of the Transitional Darfur Regional Authority (TDRA), and a large group of senior officials, visited the three states in the region and inaugurated a number of building projects including airports, hospitals, universities and roads.

Al-Bashir also held meetings with representatives of the displaced people and other personalities to discuss the ways of getting rid of their sufferings by achieving peace, stability and development.

On Saturday, the Sudanese president called on the Darfurians to unite for the development of their homelands when addressing a mass rally in Nyala, the capital city of South Darfur State which has the biggest population among the three Darfur states.

"The citizens just want a comprehensive peace followed by development," al-Bashir said, adding "that is why I call on the armed rebels to join the political process so that we can reconstruct Darfur together."

"If you (rebels) preserve the current peace and security ... we will shoulder the responsibility of development and see to it that you get compensation," he announced.

"We want the displaced persons to return to their home areas and cultivate the land," al-Bashir underlined.

In Fashir, the capital city of North Darfur State, al-Bashir chaired a meeting of the Council of Ministers, the first such one in Darfur, to listen to reports on the situations in the region.

He said during Sunday's meeting that most of the people of Darfur were enjoying security and peace and leading natural life, underlining that the Darfur issue is on the way to be resolved.

Efforts of the Sudanese government during the coming period would focus on three points, namely the implementation of security arrangements of the DPA, supporting the return of the displaced people to their villages and providing them with basic services, and bring the non-signatory rebel movements back to the negotiation table, the president declared.
Addressing a mass rally later on Sunday, al-Bashir announced the year 2007 a year for peace in Darfur and called on the rebel movements to join the peace process.

Warning that western forces were attempting to split the people of Darfur in a way that was similar to what was happening in Iraq, the Sudanese president urged the Darfurians not to give a chance to them.

On Monday's tour to Genaina, the capital city of West Darfur State, al-Bashir affirmed that the Sudanese government would focus on voluntary repatriation of the displaced people to their home villages after securing these areas and providing them with services.

He urged the local citizens to participate in securing their state in a view that security was necessary for development and provision of services.

(Xinhua News Agency July 25, 2007)

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