POSSIBLE GOOD NEWS....

POSSIBLE GOOD NEWS. According to this latest dispatch from Abuja, Nigeria, both the Sudanese government and the disparate Darfuri rebel factions have agreed to sign the peace accord. The details of the accord are not yet available, but presumably the agreement entails the absorption of rebel fighters into the Sudanese armed forces and some sort of power-sharing arrangement

The accords are certainly a step in the right direction. However, before I get my hopes up, it�s best that we in the commentary class -- and more importantly the United States and interested international parties -- reserve our final judgment on Abuja. This agreement could very well turn out to be not worth the paper it is signed on. After all, the Sudanese government signed a ceasefire with the rebels back in 2004. But since then the rebels have taken up arms, and more significantly, Khartoum has continued its campaign to purge Darfur of Darfuris. Now, with the rainy season approaching, Khartoum could do as it did last year and block humanitarian access to Darfur�s refugee camps and commit a de facto genocide.

That�s not to say that the Abuja agreement cannot be a positive development -- it most certainly can. Whether or not the parties agree to the terms of the agreement, its nominal acceptance is significant because it could pave the way for eventual UN peacekeepers to the area. So far, China and Russia have waited on some sort of political agreement before they acquiesce to a peacekeeping force. And unlike other Security Council measures against Sudan, the Chinese would not block a UN peacekeeping force from Darfur with a political agreement in place. So, the Abuja deal -- whether the parties abide by its terms or not -- could be the entry point for a long-awaited UN peacekeeping force.

--Mark Leon Goldberg

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