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U.N. extends mandate for Darfur

UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- The U.N. Security Council voted to extend the mandate for the mission to Darfur as South Sudan gets set for a January vote for self-determination.

A 2005 peace accord brokered by U.S. President George W. Bush led to an end to a decades-long conflict in Sudan and a referendum for South Sudanese self-determination.

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Oxfam joined the International Rescue Committee and other human relief groups in stressing the months leading up to the January referendum will be critical for Sudanese peace and stability.

The U.N. Security Council, meanwhile, voted to extend a mandate for a monitoring group for Darfur. The group is tasked with monitoring an arms embargo and individuals who are thwarting the peace process in the troubled region of Africa.

China, a veto-wielding member of the Security Council, abstained from the vote, saying it questioned the panel's objectivity.

Members of the Security Council recently returned from a tour of Sudan where they reviewed developments in Darfur and preparations under way to hold the referendum.

Susan Rice, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations, said she saw crowds of people in South Sudan that she said where "gripped with fever" over the January referendum.

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The enthusiasm in the south, however, was met with unease over concerns that the north might be preparing for war, she told the Security Council.

Roughly 300,000 people were killed and another 2.7 million were displaced since 2003 in the troubled region of Sudan.

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