- The former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, has landed in Sudan late on Wednesday to help find a lasting solution to the conflict ridden Darfur region. The Head of African Union special panel for Darfur who is expected to meet Sudanese officials, will also visit the Darfur region.
According to the AU Peace and Security Council statement, Mr Mbeki will hold a series of talks with tribal leaders, displaced peoples' representatives, UN and AU peacekeepers, political parties and civil society representatives.
The AU has pleaded with the ICC to delay the charges on President Al Bashir for a year, fearing his indictment could further destabilise the situation in Darfur.
Mr Mbeki who was appointed head of the Special panel for Sudan early March is expected to lead his panel to expedite the peace process, installing justice and start reconciliation process among the warring parties in Sudan.
Mr Mbeki, who mediated the Zimbabwe political crisis, is now scheduled to meet Sudanese government authorities, Darfur rebels and neighbouring states and submit a progress report to the African Union in the next four months.
The former president was appointed to mediate between Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir and the International Criminal Court following the indictment of Mr Al Bashir by the court on 4 March 2009.
Mr Mbeki has faced sharp criticism for his soft stand against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe during his mediation effort, but he defended the criticism by saying the mediation was successful and achieved the intended result.
Mr Mbeki has also dismissed criticism that he might have another soft stand on Sudanese president Al Bashir, who has been charged with war crimes, and crimes against humanity by the ICC.
Since the indictment, President Al Bashir has expelled 13 non-governmental organisations involved in aid operations in Darfur.
International organaisations and western nations have appealed to the leader to reconsider his decisions, but the government has however said the Darfur situation was under control.
The Darfur conflict started in 2003 when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government complaining of discrimination and neglect in the Darfur region. The six year conflict in Sudan has killed more than 300,000 people with more others displaced.
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