August 25th, 2006 02:30 EST
Security Council decides to proceed with scheduled meeting on Darfur
The Security Council will proceed with plans to meet on Monday to discuss the deteriorating situation in Sudan’s impoverished and strife-torn Darfur region, despite a request from the Sudanese Government to postpone the meeting, the Council’s President said today.
Ambassador Nana Effah-Apenteng of Ghana, which is serving as Council President during August, told reporters at United Nations Headquarters in New York that the 15-member body considers the situation in Darfur to be so grave that a meeting is necessary.
Speaking after members held closed-door consultations today, Mr. Effah-Apenteng acknowledged that the Council had received a letter from Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir asking for a postponement of Monday’s meeting “to enable better preparations.”
The Ghanaian ambassador added that Council members would also continue to discuss a draft resolution circulated by the United Kingdom that outlines the size and scope of a possible UN peacekeeping operation.
Mr. al-Bashir wrote a separate letter to the Council this week about Khartoum’s plan for restoring stability and protection to civilians in Darfur, where violence between Sudanese armed forces, allied militias and rebel groups has killed scores of thousands of people since 2003 and forced 2 million others to flee their homes.
In this letter Mr. al-Bashir stated that a transfer of the African Union’s (AU) current peacekeeping mandate in Darfur to a UN operation “does not find acceptance among large sectors of the people of Darfur.
“All its legislative, parliamentary and executive institutions at every level, including the Government of National Unity, have adopted unanimous resolution categorically rejecting the process of transfer.”
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters that Khartoum’s opposition to a force of blue helmets in Darfur remains the key issue before individual UN Member States determine whether they are willing to contribute troops to such a force.
Last week Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown warned that “something ugly is brewing” in Darfur, a region roughly the size of France on Sudan’s border with Chad.