Hailing today's signing of a comprehensive peace agreement formally ending Sudan's long and devastating war, Secretary-General Kofi Annan pledged to quickly outline plans for a United Nations operation there but warned that it would face severe challenges.
At a ceremony in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, the Khartoum Government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement pledged to end fighting that has killed at least 2 million people, uprooted 4 million more, and forced some 600,000 to flee to neighbouring countries for more than two decades.
“The real challenge now is for all the parties to show the same commitment, determination and courage in fully implementing the Agreement, which will entail equally daunting challenges over a very long period,” said UN envoy Jan Pronk, who delivered the message on the Secretary-General's behalf.
This agreement is premised on the vision of promoting stability, rehabilitation and development in all regions of Sudan, through power-sharing and the equitable distribution of the country's wealth. Mr. Annan said it could serve as a blueprint for addressing Sudan's separate conflict in Darfur, in the country's west, “where the situation remains horrific and where the vital African Union Mission deserves greater support.”
He voiced hope that the parties in Darfur “will be inspired by what has been achieved today, and pursue wide-ranging a political solution to their conflict without any further delay.”
Looking to the broader political context, the Secretary-General cautioned that Sudan urgently needs a fully representative and democratic Government. He added that the planned all-inclusive National Conference should be open to all segments of Sudanese society.
”The United Nations will stand firmly by your side in these monumental tasks,” Mr. Annan declared, pledging continued humanitarian and development aid.
He added that he would shortly recommend a UN peace support operation in Sudan to the Security Council, but warned that it “will likely face immense logistical difficulties in a country with such inadequate roads, airfields and communication facilities.”
Still, he said, “we are determined to field an effective operation.”
Anticipating that the parties may be tempted to abandon the road to peace, while the international community might “prefer to look elsewhere,” the Secretary-General emphasized that the accord marks “the beginning of a process, not an end.”