Thursday, July 13, 2006

Further engagement with Sudan needed on UN Darfur force, peacekeeping chief says

Misunderstandings between the Government of Sudan and the international community concerning a proposed UN mission in Darfur must be cleared up if the peace agreement it is meant to support is to be successful, the UN's top peacekeeping official said July 12, 2006. UN News Centre report July 12, 2006 - excerpt:
"There was not enough engagement," Jean-Marie Guehenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, told the press after briefing the Security Council on his discussions with Sudanese President Omar al Bashir and other African leaders on the margins of the African Union (AU) Summit meeting held in Banjul earlier this month.

In his talks with President al Bashir in Banjul, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that there was agreement on the need to immediately strengthen the AU mission in Darfur (AMIS) and to consolidate the peace accord in that region, which has seen scores of thousands of people killed and over 2 million displaced.

However, the Sudanese President's agreement on the deployment of a UN force, which peacekeeping officials have said was needed by January 2007 to fully implement the peace accord, was not secured in the talks, Mr. Guehenno said, although progress had been made in dispelling any notion that such a force would have any "colonial" or other hidden objectives.

"The international community is interested in Darfur because it is interested in helping the people of Sudan and the Government of Sudan in establishing the authority of the State and peace and security throughout the territory," the peacekeeping chief said he stressed.

Mr. Guehenno also emphasized that further engagement with the Government was needed. "I think we need to continue that discussion, because clearly the Government of Sudan has to be a part of the solution."

In any case, he said it was important to strengthen AMIS and make sure that the situation in Darfur does not deteriorate in the next six months, and for that reason he said he had highlighted to the Council the importance of a conference aimed at supporting the AU mission, to be held on 18 July in Brussels.

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