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Sudan/UN, Sep 26 (Canadian-Media): Political developments in Sudan continue to move along a positive trajectory, while planning for a UN mission to assist the transitional government is progressing, the UN Security Council heard on Friday.
UN peacekeepers from Pakistan engage the local population in North Darfur, Sudan. Image credit: UNAMID
Ambassadors met in person in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Chamber at UN Headquarters in New York, where they were briefed by UN political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo, and the head of UN Peacekeeping, Jean-Pierre Lacroix.
“As the Secretary-General highlights in his report, Sudan’s political transition continues to move in the right direction”, said Ms. DiCarlo, speaking via video link.
Developments on the political front
After nearly a year of talks, the transitional Government of Sudan and two key armed movements from Darfur - the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) alliance and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Minni Minnawi (SLM/MM) - initialed a peace agreement at the end of August.
Signing is scheduled for 3 October, and the parties have agreed to a 39-month transitional period effective from that date.
A faction from another group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), has also signed a declaration of principles agreement.
Significant work ahead Ms. DiCarlo outlined other recent developments in Sudan, including the appointment of interim civilian governors in all 18 states, two of whom are women.
She said the parties should be commended for persevering with the peace process, adding that “it is not too late” for others to join.
“As we embrace the recent progress in the peace process, we are also mindful of the significant work ahead”, she cautioned.
“The various accords and respective peace agreements on regional issues must be moulded into a single, coherent framework. Additionally, the parties and the Government must form a joint vision on the way forward and to uphold their respective commitments.”
Goodwill into action For the UN’s peacekeeping chief, the initialling of the agreement marked an important milestone for Darfur, where years of brutal fighting have left some 300,000 people dead and millions of others displaced, according to UN estimates.
Mr. Lacroix hoped the goodwill expressed by the parties will translate into lasting change on the ground, although some “key players” have yet to join the peace process.
He urged the international community to work to bring all stakeholders on board.
“Furthermore, the implementation phase which is now beginning will be just as crucial as the drafting of the agreement itself”, said Mr. Lacroix, who also briefed ambassadors via video-link.
Among the key provisions is a 12,000-strong joint security force for Darfur, to be deployed within 90 days of the signing. It will be made up of equal numbers of members of the Sudanese security forces and from the signatory armed groups.
“As forces are deployed and resources are mobilized in support of the implementation, it is essential to ensure that local Darfuri communities feel ownership of the agreement and fully participate in the implementation,” he stressed.
Progress on new UN mission Meanwhile, planning continues for the new UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), Ms. DiCarlo told the Council.
UNITAMS will assist the political transition, and support implementation of peace accords in conflict areas, national-led peacebuilding efforts, and strengthening of human rights, among other tasks.
“Gender issues are mainstreamed throughout the mandate of the mission, which will have dedicated gender expertise, including at the senior level, to implement our commitments to advance gender equality and the women, peace and security agenda”, said Ms. DiCarlo.
UNITAMS is a follow-on to the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). The Security Council authorized the establishment of the new mission in June and the start-up team is set to deploy to Sudan next month.