Leaders from eight African countries will meet in Libya on Jan. 4 for a special African Union summit on the crisis in Sudan's western Darfur region and growing tensions between the country and neighboring Chad, officials said Friday. The meeting in Tripoli will seek to energize ongoing peace talks in Nigeria between Darfur rebels and Sudan's government aiming to end the 30-month-old conflict, said Said Djinnit, the AU Peace and Security Commissioner.
The leaders of Nigeria, Sudan, Eritrea, Egypt, Chad, Central African Republic, Libya and Gabon are expected to attend the mini-summit. It comes three weeks before the African Union holds its annual summit involving all 53 members in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.
Sudan's President Omar el-Bashir hopes to become the next chairman of the African Union during the summit. That will only be decided after a vote by members of the bloc.
Deby has called for the January African Union summit to be moved out of Sudan, saying the country should not take over the AU presidency because it is aggressive toward its people and toward Chad.
"We call for restraint," Djinnit told the Associated Press. "The leaders are expected to look in to the deterioration of relations between the two countries."
Chadian rebels clashed with security forces, leading to the death of than 300 people, mainly insurgents, in Adre on Dec. 18. The town is on the border with Sudan, some 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) east of the Chadian capital, N'djamena.
The Chadian army said the clash in Adre was with two rebel groups, the Rally for Democracy and Freedom and the Foundation for Change, Unity and Democracy, reports the AP. I.L.