28 Aug 2009

UN believes war in Darfur over

6:58 am on 28 August 2009

A United Nations military commander says the six-year war between forces loyal to Sudan's government and rebels in Darfur has effectively ended.

General Martin Agwai, who is leaving his post as the region's commander this week, says the vicious fighting of earlier years has subsided, as rebel groups split into factions.

The UN says 300,000 people have died in Darfur, but the Sudanese government puts the figure at 10,000.

General Agwai, who led a joint UN and African Union peacekeeping force, said the region now suffered more from "security issues" than full-blown conflict.

General Agwai insists the real problem now is political.

Last week, a US envoy said the existence of 26 different rebel factions was a major obstacle to reaching a peace agreement with the government.

The war broke out early in 2003 when rebel groups attacked government targets, accusing Khartoum of oppressing black Africans in favour of Arabs.

Pro-government militia hit back with brutal force, which the Unuted States and some rights groups have labelled genocide.