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Page last updated at 10:53 GMT, Tuesday, 1 July 2008 11:53 UK

New Darfur peace envoy is named

Djibril Bassole
Djibril Bassole last year helped broker a peace deal in Ivory Coast

The United Nations and the African Union (AU) have appointed the Burkina Faso Foreign Minister, Djibril Bassole, as their new Darfur peace envoy.

The UN said Mr Bassole will conduct efforts to mediate between the Sudanese government and Darfur rebels from the region's city of Fasher.

He replaces current UN and AU envoys Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim.

Recent peace efforts have faltered - armed men held 38 peacekeepers at gunpoint for five hours on Monday.

The UN says Mr Bassole, 51, has extensive experience in conflict mediation, having played an important role in negotiating the peace agreement signed last year by the government of Ivory Coast and the New Forces rebels.

Map

Mr Eliasson and Mr Salim last week questioned whether the armed groups were committed to ending the conflict.

Talks have been complicated recently because the rebels have split into more than a dozen factions.

The UN and AU have a joint peacekeeping force in Darfur. But it has just 9,000 of the planned 26,000 troops.

The violence in Darfur began in 2003 when rebel groups complaining of discrimination against black Africans began attacking government targets.

The government mobilised what it called "self-defence militias" in response, but denies any links to the Janjaweed, accused of trying to "cleanse" black Africans from Darfur.


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