The sixth round of African Union (AU)-sponsored talks on the 32-month crisis in Sudan's Darfur region ended on Thursday in Nigeria with all parties agreeing general principles on the thorny issue of power sharing.
"The sixth round has ended. The seventh round of talks will be held on November 20 in Abuja," AU spokesman Moussa Hamani told Xinhua from the Nigerian capital.
The talks which began in Abuja on September 15 were bogged down as a division in the larger one of the two rebel groups in Darfur, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A), and the deteriorating situation in Darfur undermined the pace of the negotiations.
Hamani, however, insisted that the talks are still "on a good way" and a statement issued at the end of Thursday's meeting said some progress had been made on the substantive issue of power sharing.
"In concrete terms, we are able to reach agreement on the following: a. human rights and fundamental freedoms; b. criteria and guidelines for power sharing," said the statement but did not give details.
According to the statement jointly signed by the Sudanese government and the two rebel groups, the parties also discussed the federal system and all levels of governance.
"We are confident that even though modest progress was made during this session, the foundation had been laid to enable us move forward on the substantive issues that are on the agenda for the power sharing negotiations, during the next round," it said.
The statement said the AU, the World Bank and international partners will convene a workshop on wealth sharing in Nairobi, Kenya on November 11 in preparation for the technical discussions on this issue.
Meanwhile, all the parties once again affirmed "their determination to make the next round a decisive one and to work tirelessly for the achievement of that objective," it added.
The Darfur conflict, which pits the SLM/A and the second rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) against the Sudanese government since February 2003, has claimed many lives and driven out more than one million others from their homes.
The AU has brokered a shaky ceasefire and struggled to find a lasting solution through five previous rounds of talks, which however failed to get substantial agreements.
(Xinhua News Agency October 21, 2005)