The peace process in the war-wracked Darfur region of Sudan has reached a critical point, " Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, calling on both the Government and rebel groups to accelerate efforts to reach a compromise.
The Joint African Union-United Nations Mediator Djibril BassolÃ© has been working with Qatar to drum up momentum by giving civil society a voice at the peace talks, Mr. Ban told the Security Council.
The efforts by the UN and AU " which together manage UNAMID, the peacekeeping force in Darfur " to resolve the long-running conflict in the region between the Sudanese Government and the region`s armed movements have been led by Mr. BassolÃ© and his team and sponsored by the Government of Qatar.
Fighting has raged across the western Sudanese region since 2003, pitting the rebel movements against Government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen. All sides stand accused of human rights abuses and an estimated 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur over the past six years and another 2.7 million people forced to leave their homes.
Civil society and armed movements have agreed to re-start consultations in Doha on 18 January, to be followed by direct talks between the Government and movements on 24 January in Qatar`s capital.
Efforts must continue to encourage the Government, and more especially the rebel movements, to make concessions, and embrace the consensus which Mr. BassolÃ© is building, " the Secretary-General underscored.
The AU High-Level Implementation Panel " comprising former South African president Thabo Mbeki, former Burundian leader Pierre Buyoya and former Nigerian president Abdulsalami Abubakar " and the international community have a key role to play, he added.
The 15-member Council today was briefed by both Mr. Mbeki and AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping on the Panel`s new report, which provides a frank assessment and insightful analysis " of what is happening in Sudan and offers recommendations on the way forward, according to Mr. Ban.
Perhaps above all, the panel members have insisted on seeing Sudan in its totality, " he said. They have clearly articulated the links between the crisis in Darfur and broader efforts to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement [CPA], " the 2005 pact that ended the more than two decades of north-south strife.
In the coming months and years, Sudan will experience elections and two referenda, which will determine the future shape of Sudan, " the Secretary-General told the Council, and their outcome will require genuine cooperation " between the two parties to the CPA, the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People`s Liberation Movement (SPLM).
He also underlined the need to continue compliance with the Council resolution referring the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which issued an arrest warrant for President Omar Al-Bashir in March for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the region.
Following today`s meeting, the Council issued a press statement read out by Ambassador Michel Kafando of Burkina Faso, which holds the body`s rotating monthly presidency, in which they welcomed the Panel`s report, noting that they looked forward to the implementation of a holistic approach to the problems facing Sudan. "
Council members said they agreed with the new report that the causes and consequences of the Darfur conflict have yet to be addressed, repeating their call on all parties that have yet to take part in the peace talks to join the dialogue.