Home | News    Friday 19 May 2006

UN’s Annan sends troubleshooter to Sudan

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May 19, 2006 (UNITED NATIONS) — UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is sending retired diplomatic trouble-shooter Lakhdar Brahimi to Khartoum next week to press Sudan’s reluctant government to allow U.N. military planners into Darfur, U.N. officials said on Friday.

Lakhdar Brahimi

The move follows Tuesday’s adoption by the Security Council of a resolution giving the government a week to let in the U.N. planning team, so it can begin preparing for a U.N. peacekeeping force to take over in Darfur later this year from the African Union mission now there.

The resolution did not specify what action the council would take if the government failed to meet the deadline, but it was written under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, making its demands binding under international law.

Annan decided to dispatch Brahimi, a former Algerian foreign minister who stepped down from active U.N. service last December, as his special envoy "as part of a continuing dialogue with the government of Sudan," U.N. chief spokesman Stephane Dujarric told Reuters.

A veteran U.N. official who helped the United States manage the transition back to Iraqi rule after the U.S.-led 2003 invasion, Brahimi is to be accompanied on the trip by senior U.N. peacekeeping official Hedi Annabi, Dujarric said.

The 7,000-strong AU peacekeeping force now in Darfur has been unable to muster the resources and numbers needed to protect Darfur villagers from marauding government-backed militias that have continued during a three-year civil war.

Tens of thousands of people in Darfur have been killed and more than 2 million driven from their homes in the conflict, which the United States describes as a genocide.

The African Union Peace and Security Council this week firmly endorsed a U.N. takeover of its mission later this year after earlier expressing uncertainty about such a move under heavy lobbying from the Sudanese government.

The government has long said it would consider letting in U.N. troops only after a Darfur peace agreement was reached.

But it has not done so, even after an accord was signed in the Nigerian capital Abuja on May 5 between the government and one of three rebel groups. The international community is putting pressure on the other two to sign.

Sudanese officials have so far declined even to grant visas to U.N. military planners, who need to visit the region before they can begin assembling a Darfur peacekeeping mission.

Diplomats said Brahimi could be persuasive with Khartoum where others had failed because of his strong ties to the Arab world. Arab nations have generally backed Sudan in rejecting international criticism and opposing greater U.N. involvement in the troubled region.

(Reuters)

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