UN mission to Sudan hinges on peace accord

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Series Details Vol.12, No.17, 4.5.06
Publication Date 04/05/2006
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By David Cronin

Date: 04/05/06

A peace accord is vital in Sudan if the United Nations is to take charge of peacekeeping in the war-torn Darfur region, Pekka Haavisto, the EU's envoy to the country has said.

Haavisto has this week been representing the EU during talks between the Khartoum government and two rebel groups, the Sudanese Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement, in Abuja, Nigeria. "There is no way of having a UN mission in Sudan, without having a peace agreement they can follow," Haavisto told European Voice.

The African Union (AU), which is organising the Abuja talks, had set a 30 April deadline for their conclusion. But it agreed to extend that deadline after rebels complained that some of their demands, including the appointment of a Sudanese vice-president from Darfur, were not met in an 85-page draft accord.

The AU commands a 7,000-strong peacekeeping force in Darfur but its mandate is to expire in September. Aides to Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief, have advised that it would not be prudent for European governments to support any extension of the AU mandate as they did not believe the AU was capable of sustaining a force beyond the autumn.

Kofi Annan, the UN's secretary-general, believes that his organisation should take charge of peacekeeping in Darfur, where the three-year conflict has uprooted two million people. Sudan's government has insisted, however, that only African troops be deployed in Darfur; last month it angered Annan by preventing Jan Egeland, the UN's director of humanitarian affairs, from visiting Darfur. Egeland has warned that 500,000 of the three million needing outside help in Darfur were "out of reach" and that aid workers had had to curtail their operations because they had been attacked by armed groups.

Darfur will be one of the main topics discussed at an EU-Africa ministerial meeting in Vienna on Monday (8 May). Lam Akol, the Sudanese foreign minister, is to attend the meeting, along with Said Djinnit, the AU peace and security commissioner.

Lotte Leicht from the Brussels office of Human Rights Watch urged Austria's EU presidency to demand that Sudan accepts a UN force.

"If the government tells us it is not in control of the militia, then it must invite someone else in to Darfur," she said. "A robust UN peacekeeping force must be there to protect civilians and to oversee the disarmament of the militia and of rebel groups."

Article features comments by the EU envoy to Sudan, Pekka Haavisto, who said that a peace accord was vital in Sudan if the United Nations was to take charge of peacekeeping in the war-torn Darfur region. The African Union (AU) commanded a 7,000-strong peacekeeping force in Darfur but its mandate was to expire in September 2006. Haavisto represented the EU in negotiations between the Sudanese conflict parties, hosted by the AU, in Abuja, Nigeria.

Source Link http://www.european-voice.com/
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