French hostage in Darfur sick, group repeats demand

KHARTOUM, April 19 (Reuters) - A French hostage snatched by kidnappers in Darfur more than two weeks ago is sick, her Canadian colleague said on Sunday, and one of the men holding the pair said talks with the French government had broken down.

"My colleague Claire is still sick, she still has diarrhoea, things haven't changed," Stephanie Joidon told Reuters via satellite phone, adding she had not receive medical treatment. An unidentified man holding the pair confirmed that Frenchwoman Claire Dubois was sick and said that the Sudanese government had put an end to direct negotiations with France to secure the aid workers' release.

"In the past we had direct negotiations with the French government but now we do not, because the Sudanese government stopped that," the man from a group calling itself the Freedom Eagles of Africa said.

But a Sudanese government official denied it had anything to do with the negotiations.

"The Sudanese government has not put anything to an end. The Sudanese government is giving all the time for the negotiations between the French organisation and the kidnappers," said Foreign Ministry official Ali Youssef Ahmed.

"We have exercised the maximum self-restraint in allowing the process of negotiations to continue. We have made it very clear that we want a peaceful end to the drama," he added.

Unknown armed men took the French and Canadian workers from France's Aide Medicale Internationale (AMI) from their compound in the south Darfur settlement of Ed el Fursan late on April 4.

Joidon said the pair had been allowed regular contact with their families and AMI but did not know the current status of negotiations.

"We really don't what are their requests, we are not a part of the negotiation at all so we have no idea what's going on," she said.

The kidnapper repeating a threat to kill the women and target French interests in Sudan, Chad and the Central African Republic if Paris does not retry members of a French group convicted but later pardoned over the abduction of children from Chad. (Writing by Alastair Sharp)