ABUJA, Nigeria – Sudan's government and rebels ended a sixth round of talks on the crisis in the country's western Darfur (search) region Thursday, announcing no agreements but pledging to reconvene in a month to push forward the slow-moving peace process.
Fighting between two rebel factions, which splintered earlier this year from the main Sudan Liberation Army (search), complicated more than a month of talks in Nigeria's capital, Abuja. The sides agreed to meet again Nov. 21 in Abuja.
"I don't name it failure and I don't call it a success," said government negotiator Yusuf Abdallah adding that he was encouraged by a sense of optimism among participants but found progress slow.
The parties signed a statement saying "some progress was made" in discussions over human rights and power-sharing at the national and local levels.
"We are conscious of the urgent need to give our people respite from their long suffering," the parties said.
"Reasonable and acceptable" progress was made, particularly over power-sharing and human rights issues, said Ahmed Tugod, leader of a delegation of the smaller of the two rebel groups, the Justice and Equality Movement (search). He gave no further details.
Violence in Darfur spiked while negotiators met, including rebel attacks on army outposts and African Union peacekeepers and government and militia raids on villages and refugee camps.
After decades of low-level clashes over land and water in Darfur, rebels launched a large-scale conflict in early 2003, accusing the Arab-dominated central government of neglecting ethnic African tribes. The central government is accused of responding by sending Arab tribal militias, known as the Janjaweed, to murder and rape civilians and lay waste to villages. The government denies backing the Janjaweed.
The chaos has left at least 180,000 people dead from hunger and disease and forced 2 million to flee their homes. There are no firm estimates of the number of people killed in fighting and Janjaweed attacks.
On Wednesday, the United Nations (search) said violence was hindering food and relief aid to tens of thousands of people and forcing more Sudanese into already crammed refugee camps.