No breakthrough on UN troops deployment to Darfur

Banjul- The Gambia (PANA) -- A meeting between UN Secretary- General Kofi Annan and Sudan's President Omar el-Bashir Sunday failed to break the deadlock on the planned deployment of UN troops to Sudan's western Darfur region.
At a press conference after the meeting, held on the sidelines of this weekend's AU Summit in Banjul, the Gambia, Annan said however that he would continue to press for the deployment of the troops.
The Secretary-General said el-Bashir agreed to submit to him a plan detailing the government's position on the thorny issue.
Though the UN Security Council has passed a resolution on the need to quicken efforts to deploy the troops, the Sudanese government is strongly opposed to the plan.
"I had a long and substantive discussion (with President el- Bashir) on the need to strengthen AMIS (African Mission in Sudan) and consolidate the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA)," Annan said.
"We agreed that if the agreement is to be implemented, the parties who have not signed must come on board," he said of the DPA.
The peace deal was signed in Nigeria's capital city of Abuja in May by the Sudanese government and a faction of the main rebel group Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A).
Another faction of the SLM/A and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) refused to sign the accord, and have been working to undermine it.
But Annan expressed the optimism that the DPA would be implemented.
"It is not easy to implement peace agreements.
It is much easier to get things on paper.
We need to work energetically on the agreement," he said.
But Annan noted that five things must be done to facilitate the implementation.
He said the other rebel groups must be pressed to sign the accord; the signatories must be encouraged to begin its implementation and AMIS must be strengthened.
The UN Chief also said the donor community must be mobilised to provide resources to help the internally displaced persons (IDPs), while planning for the deployment of the UN troops must continue.
On the mandate of AMIS, which expires in September 2006, Annan hinted it might be extended till December, saying resources would be mobilised to sustain the African force during the extension.
The 7,000-strong AMIS has not been able to stem the crisis, which broke out in 2003, or adequately protect the IDPs and the humanitarian supply routes.
The AU Commission has recommended an increase in the strength of AMIS to 10,500 and change in its mandate to enable it facilitate the implementation of the DPA.
Ahead of the 1-2 July Summit, the AU Peace and Security Council slammed targeted sanctions, including a travel ban and assets freeze, on persons and groups opposed to the DPA.
In a related development, the Secretary-General has announced the appointment of former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa as the Mediator for Zimbabwe.
"(President) Mkapa has been working quietly with President (Robert) Mugabe to assist Zimbabwe," Annan said.
He also announced plans to travel to Sierra Leone and Liberia, straight from the AU Summit, as part of continuing efforts to assist the countries to stabilise.
"It is important we all continue to support them in their transition to peace and stability," he said.

02 july 2006 16:55:00

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