For UN-African Union Mission in Darfur, Most Important Mandates Those Aimed at Helping Achieve Comprehensive Political Solution, Security Council Told

30 November 2009

For UN-African Union Mission in Darfur, Most Important Mandates Those Aimed at Helping Achieve Comprehensive Political Solution, Security Council Told

30 November 2009
Security Council
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6227th Meeting (AM)

For UN-African Union Mission in Darfur, Most Important Mandates Those Aimed

at Helping Achieve Comprehensive Political Solution, Security Council Told

Peacekeeping Official Briefs, Introduces Report on ‘Benchmarks’ for Mission;

Mediator Says Urgent to Reach Political Arrangement before 2010 National Elections

“Among the Mission’s mandated activities, and among the efforts of the UN in Darfur, none is as important as those aimed at achieving a comprehensive political solution to end Darfur’s marginalization and enable its rightful representation in the national political process”, Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, told the Security Council today.

Mr. Mulet briefed the Council on the report of the Secretary-General on the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) (document S/2009/592), which described a set of concrete benchmarks and indicators for measuring progress towards achievement of UNAMID’s mandate.

Those benchmarks described progress to be made regarding:  a comprehensive political solution that would ensure that Darfur was adequately represented and participating in the national political process; a secure and stable environment in which civilians, in particular vulnerable groups, were protected and displaced populations might choose to return to places of origin; enhanced rule of law, governance and human rights throughout Darfur; and a stabilized humanitarian situation.

Saying that progress in those areas was long overdue, he said that the security situation in Darfur continued to be unstable, with continued attacks on humanitarian workers and vehicles.  He expressed serious concern at the fate of two UNAMID employees who had been kidnapped in Zalingei 94 days ago.

A new round of peace talks in Doha on 17 November had coincided with intensified fighting on the ground, he said.  On that day, 11 people had been killed in South Darfur as a result of attacks of combatants affiliated with the SLA-Mini Minawi on villages close to Neghea.  Twenty-nine soldiers of the Sudanese army had been killed in North Darfur on 19 November, supposedly by rebels of the SLA-Abdul Shafi or SLA-Abdul Wahid.  Clashes between the two groups had also been reported, which showed that the fragmentation of rebel movements had repercussions for mediation and the peace process.

He said that, over the past three months, UNAMID continued to be seriously hindered in its freedom of movement.  He would continue to discuss the problem of collaboration with the Sudanese authorities in an open and transparent manner.  The rebel movements, however, must be held to the same obligations.  The armed movements were asked to commit to ensure freedom of movement in the areas under their control.  The UNAMID continued to work with the Government and with the movements, but needed the Council’s support in that regard.

The Government of the Sudan was carrying out registration for the national elections, scheduled to take place in April 2010, he said, but pointed out that significant challenges remained with regard to preparations, including agreement on the census results, clarification on constituency delimitation, and completion of the registration process.  A debate must also take place on what was required to hold inclusive elections in Darfur, as a number of Darfur groups, including internally displaced persons, continued to express concerns about holding elections before the conclusion of a peace agreement.

He said the start of election registration on 1 November had led to heightened tensions and some incidents in areas of Darfur.  The UNAMID was working to disseminate a strong message that no group had a right to use violence to disrupt preparations.  Both partners in the Government of National Unity and the Darfur movements must address outstanding political and technical issues associated with the elections.

The release of the report of the Panel chaired by President Mbeki, endorsed by the African Union Peace and Security Council, represented another major political development for the Sudan, he said.  With the pressure and urgency of the electoral timeframe in mind, the Joint Chief Mediator had been working to facilitate the resumption of direct talks between the Government and the armed movements and for civil society consultations.

Continuing, Mr. Mulet said the Government and the movements must demonstrate a readiness to give up the military option completely.  President Mbeki’s Panel report highlighted, in that regard, the issues that needed to be addressed:  power-sharing; wealth-sharing; security; and compensation.  Considerable progress needed to be made on those issues in the coming months in order for the election to be meaningful in Darfur.  The challenge for the Council, for the United Nations, and for the African Union was to determine how best to assist the parties in achieving a political solution which addressed those issues.  “If progress is not made, the holding of elections could have significant implications for peace”, he said.

Djibrill Bassolé, Joint African Union-United Nations Chief Mediator, praised the large majority of Sudanese actors for their engagement in the process of dialogue to find an end to the crisis.  Unfortunately, he said, the belligerents’ current lack of confidence in each other made for slow progress in the peace talks and in ending military hostilities.  Nevertheless, the Darfur peace talks, which were launched on 18 November 2009 in Doha, Qatar, would include both a dialogue between different parts of Darfurian society and direct negotiations between the belligerent parties.  Those talks aimed to find a comprehensive resolution to the underlying causes of the crisis, to overcome inter-communal hatred caused by war, and to accelerate socio-economic development.

To that end, he said civil society and the principal belligerents must address the central issues, including:  the socio-economic reinsertion of displaced people and refugees; the promotion of human rights and security; the fight against poverty and marginalization; an end to military hostilities and political and security arrangements; the 2010 elections and democratic good governance; the resolution of land disputes; and compensation, reconciliation and justice, including an end to criminal impunity.

He stressed that the involvement of civil society would be crucial in promoting social and inter-communal reconciliation and ridding Darfurian society of “the germs of chronic conflict” that risked prolonging the crisis and affecting the entire subregion.  Among the varied and complex issues that must be addressed to end the Darfur crisis were the pastoral and agrarian use and management of land; environmental degradation and the precarious livelihood and living conditions of nomads; and the new social and political realities of the camps of internally displaced persons.

With the negotiation process between the armed movements and the Government of National Unity slowing down, due to a crisis of confidence between the principal belligerents and various differences that undermined the movements’ cohesion, the Mediation had intensified its efforts with the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) of Khalil Ibrahim and the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) of Abdel Wahid Al-Nour, aiming to unite the positions of these two founding movements of the Darfur rebellion, as well as those of all the other movements.  To further encourage this, the National Unity Government should make the maximum effort to strengthen the credibility of the peace process, particularly by reducing tensions in Darfur, improving security and advancing socio-economic development.

He called on the belligerent parties to agree to a cessation of hostilities and to commit themselves to significantly improve Darfur’s security situation.  Hostage takings, clashes between belligerents, the marauding of armed militias, the recruitment of fighters, the anarchic circulation of arms and impunity must end.  The Mediation would encourage the parties to agree to the establishment of a coordination body with UNAMID.  The Sudan must also improve its relations with Chad as a necessary, if not sufficient, condition of peace in Darfur.

He went on to underscore that the good conduct of the 2010 general elections across all of the Sudan, including Darfur, was a key factor for peace.  The Mediation strongly urged the parties to the crisis to reach the political understanding necessary to allow for those elections.  To this end, he saluted the work by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, in coordination with the Department of Political Affairs and the African Union, and highlighted the analysis of the causes of conflict outlined in the report of the African Union Panel on Darfur.  That was why it was urgent that a political arrangement in Darfur be reached, ahead of the electoral deadlines.  Moreover, a political accord was essential in ensuring the elections were neither boycotted nor taken hostage.  He invited the Government of National Unity, including the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), to work with the parties to the Darfur conflict during the Doha peace talks to agree on political arrangements for Darfur’s entire population to participate in the elections.

Convinced that a participative and inclusive approach was the best way to establish lasting peace in Darfur, the Mediation was involving representatives of all communities, as well as women’s groups, the youth and internally displaced persons, alongside the belligerents, he said.  The first forum of civil society in Doha had been an important success and, in the coming days, the Mediation would organize a workshop with representatives of civil society and armed movements to reinforce their internal cohesion.  Excluding or marginalizing one of the actors would otherwise certainly entail fratricidal clashes inside Darfur, thereby decreasing stability across the whole subregion, he added.

He hoped the principal actors in the crisis would come to the negotiation table to agree to modalities for ending the conflict.  The refusal by some armed movements to take part in political dialogue and the persistent divisions between others should not be allowed to block peace.  The Mediation would, in the near future, submit to the belligerent parties for approval the solutions emerging through consensus from all of Darfur’s communities.  It recognized the parties’ various states of readiness and would not sacrifice the credibility or sustainability of the process.  It would, thus, pursue three tracks simultaneously:  building a consensus of opinion among civil society; organizing negotiations between the movements and the Government; and improving Chad-Sudan relations.

The representative of the Sudan reiterated that the political process was the only way to ensure security, stability and lasting peace, particularly since there was no longer war in Darfur.  The only link that was missing was more pressure on those who had so far refused to join the peace process.  In the area of maintaining peace, his Government was working closely with the African Union and the United Nations to speed up UNAMID’s deployment and address other problems.  The results of the tripartite mechanisms with the African Union and the United Nations confirmed that his Government was cooperating fully.

He said that, apart from some logistical elements such as helicopters, UNAMID was now fully operational.  Registration for the elections was proceeding smoothly in all provinces, including in Darfur, as well as abroad.  The Sudan had also taken an initiative to normalize relations with Chad.  He was, therefore, surprised that the Secretary-General’s report indicated that there were still obstacles facing UNAMID and had made reference to some isolated incidents which his Government had condemned, including the kidnapping of two UNAMID staff.  The incidents mentioned in the report should be placed in the context of the stability and ongoing improvement in the security situation in Darfur.  United Nations reports must be objective and serve the cause of peace, he said.

The meeting started at 10:31 a.m. and was adjourned at 11:12 a.m.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.