Home | News    Tuesday 19 December 2006

Annan names Sweden diplomat as UN special envoy to Sudan

Dec 18, 2006 (UNITED NATIONS) — U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who leaves office in less than two weeks appointed a new interim special envoy to Sudan.

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Jan Eliasson

Outgoing UN chief Kofi Annan told the U.N. Security Council he was naming former General Assembly President Jan Eliasson of Sweden as a special envoy to Sudan, to serve during the transition to incoming U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon of South Korea, who takes over as secretary-general on Jan. 1, council diplomats said.

The Ghanaian secretary general, who is relinquishing his post in two weeks’ time, met informally with members of the UN Security Council to inform them that he was sending Ahmadou Ould Abdallah, a UN under secretary general from Mauritania, to deliver a letter to Beshir.

Meanwhile, France’s UN Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said after the meeting with Annan that Swedish former foreign minister Jan Eliasson was named interim special representative to Sudan.

The appointment of Eliasson, a popular former president of the UN General Assembly, "was supported by everyone (on the council)," de La Sabliere said.

"Eliasson will give diplomatic diplomatic support to efforts under way to speed up a solution to the (Darfur) crisis" until the appointment of a permanent special representative," Marie Okabe, the deputy UN spokeswoman said.

Eliasson will work in Khartoum until the appointment of a successor to special envoy Jan Pronk, an outspoken Dutch diplomat who was expelled by Khartoum in October for criticizing the performance of the Sudanese army in Darfur and repeatedly pushing for the deployment of UN peacekeepers there.

Annan’s meeting with the 15 council members was also attended by his designated successor, Ban Ki-Moon of South Korea, and by the envoys of the five new incoming non-permanent members of the Security Council — Belgium, Indonesia, Italy, Panama and South Africa — which are to join on January 1.

The former U.N. secretary-general’s special representative in Sudan, Jan Pronk, was declared persona non grata in October after reporting on his Internet blog that the Sudanese army had twice been defeated by rebels in Darfur and was mutinous.

A Dutch politician, Pronk became the head of the U.N. mission in Sudan in June 2004 and was due to finish his term at the end of the year, but was ordered to leave on Oct. 23 by the Sudanese government.

Last August, the Security Council passed a resolution calling for the deployment of 20,000 UN peacekeepers, but Beshir has vehemently opposed such a move, accusing the West of seeking to turn his country into a "second Iraq".

The war in Darfur, which has now spilled over into neighboring Chad and the Central African Republic, erupted in February 2003 when rebels from minority tribes took up arms to demand an equal share of national resources, prompting a heavy-handed crackdown from the Sudanese government forces and their Janjaweed proxy militia.

At least 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million been displaced as a result of the combined effects of war and famine, according to UN figures. Some sources say the toll is much higher.

(agencies)