Thursday, December 21, 2006

Sudan Update: Envoy Arrives to Discuss Darfur; Egypt Urges Support, etc.

Thursday December 21, 2006

U.N. special envoy arrives in Sudan to discuss Darfur crisis

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP)--The U.N. Secretary general's special envoy to Sudan arrived in Khartoum on Wednesday on a one-off mission to push for the government to accept U.N. peacekeepers in Darfur, officials said.

Ahmedou Ould Abdallah would deliver a message from U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir following up on phone calls between the two on the standoff over the U.N.'s role in Darfur, said U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric earlier this week.

The official Sudanese news agency, SUNA, said Ould Abdallah held talks upon his arrival Wednesday with the Sudanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ali Karti, but did give details on their exchange.

Sudan opposes a U.N. Security Council plan to send some 20,000 peacekeepers to Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million made refugee in nearly four years of fighting.

Instead, it calls for the U.N. to reinforce the overwhelmed African Union force deployed in the vast, arid region, which is nearly the size of Texas.

Sudan, the U.N. and the AU had agreed in principle on a "joint mission'' during a meeting in November, but the Sudanese government has since largely backtracked on the scope of this hybrid force.

Militias of Arab nomads allied to Khartoum are accused of the worst atrocities in the conflict, which began when local ethnic African rebels rose up against the Arab-dominated central government. Khartoum denies backing the militias, and --despite near daily reports of spiraling violence and evacuations of aid workers -- says the Darfur crisis is being blown out of proportions by Western government and media.

The African Union said its representatives in Khartoum met with the U.N. envoy on Wednesday and "expressed concern over the prevailing security situation in some parts of Darfur.''

The AU and the U.N. "appealed for the cessation of hostilities on the ground to create a conducive environment for the success of the political process,'' said an African Union statement.

UN shies from Sudan, Ivory Coast sanctions -envoy

21 Dec 2006 00:42:06 GMT

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 20 (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council lacks the unity and political will to impose sanctions on more individuals seen as blocking the peace process in Ivory Coast and Sudan, a key council member said on Wednesday.

Security Council committees charged with monitoring the peace process in both African nations have been given lists of individuals recommended for sanctions but have not acted, Greek U.N. Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis said.

Vassilakis, whose two-year seat on the 15-nation council runs out at the end of the month, made the statement in a final report to the council on his activities as chairman of its sanctions committees on Sudan and Ivory Coast, two African nations riven by internal conflict.

Each of the Security Council's 15 members has a seat on each of the council's 11 sanctions committees. The committees typically work by consensus, so an objection from even one member can block action.

In Sudan's volatile Darfur region, the council last April imposed sanctions on four individuals accused of impeding peace, but has since been unable to agree on any others to be targeted, despite soaring violence there, Vassilakis said.

While some council members wanted to take action against additional individuals, others stressed the Sudan panel
"should take political sensitivities into account and be more attuned to the ongoing diplomatic initiatives to address the situation in Darfur," he said.

As a result, the committee yet to take further action, "due to lack of the unity of purpose and political will necessary to take a decision and designate individuals on its lists," he said. The lists are typically compiled for the committees by individual council members or outside experts.

Similarly, the council imposed restrictions on the financial assets and travel of three Ivory Coast individuals last February, accusing them of obstructing the peace process.

While the February action had a calming effect in Ivory Coast for a short time, violence later resumed and the peace process has since reached a new stalemate, he said.

No other individuals have been sanctioned, despite the identification of other individuals who could be targeted, Vassilakis said.

Again, Ivory Coast sanctions committee members lacked "the necessary unity of purpose and political will" to sanction additional individuals, he said.

While Vassilakis did not name individual countries, China has in the past questioned the need for sanctions in Ivory Coast while China, Russia and Qatar have questioned whether additional sanctions would help bring peace to Darfur.

News Article by XINHUA posted on December 19, 2006 at 16:22:01: EST (-5 GMT)

Egyptian parliament urges Arab, Islamic countries to support Sudan

Cairo, 19 Dec (Xinhua)-- All Arab and Islamic countries should support the Sudanese people, especially in the western Sudanese region of Darfur, the Egyptian People's Assembly said on Monday.

In a statement, the parliament's Arab Affairs Committee urged the Arabs and Muslims to boost the Arab presence in Darfur and provide material and logistical assistance to the Sudanese government and the African Union (AU) to support refugees and displaced people from Darfur.

Meanwhile, the statement urged factions which did not sign a peace agreement with the Sudanese government to ink the peace deal.

Arab League chief Amr Moussa met on Monday with EU envoy to Sudan Pekka Haavisto on the latest developments in Darfur.

Moussa and Haavisto tackled means to put an end to violence in Darfur and convince those parties which did not sign the peace agreement to ink the deal.

On May 5, Khartoum and a main faction of the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement signed a peace agreement in the Nigerian capital Abuja.

In 2004, the 7,800-strong AU peacekeeping force was formed in Darfur to monitor the implementation of a fragile ceasefire agreement signed by conflicting parties in the region.

The AU Peace and Security Council decided last month to extend the mandate of the African troops till June 30, 2007.

The UN Security Council has authorized an international force to replace the AU troops, but the idea was rejected by the Sudan government.

News Article by AP posted on December 20, 2006 at 23:39:05: EST (-5 GMT)

Rice says she expects positive response from Sudan on new force for Darfur

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday she expects the Sudanese government to respond positively to a new Security Council move to support deployment of a hybrid U.N.-African Union force to help ease the suffering in Darfur.

It is "extremely important that a robust security force, a robust peacekeeping force" be created "to help end the violence and bring relief to the many innocent men, women and children who are suffering in Sudan," Rice said.

She spoke to reporters during a photo session after a meeting with the special U.S. envoy for Sudan, Andrew Natsios, who visited the country last week. Rice said that Natsios was able to move the "ball forward" during his visit.

The presidential statement approved by the Security Council on Tuesday endorses the outcomes of meetings last month in Ethiopia and Nigeria that have laid the groundwork for establishment of the hybrid force.

But Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has thus far refused to accept a U.N. troop presence in Darfur. A 7,000-member AU force stationed in Darfur has been unable to create a stable environment in the region.

Natsios noted that the Sudanese government announced on Tuesday it had agreed to extend for two years accelerated procedures for issuing visas to foreign relief workers in Darfur.

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