Sudan: Annan hails ceasefire agreement, urges parties to settle conflict quickly

Sudan: Annan hails ceasefire agreement, urges parties to settle conflict quickly

The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, today welcomed the recent signing of a ceasefire agreement between the Government of the Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), and urged the two sides to quickly settle the conflict.

The Memorandum of Understanding to cease hostilities was signed on Tuesday in Machakos, Kenya, where peace talks have resumed under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the regional body composed of Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

“The Secretary-General appeals to the Sudanese parties to pursue the negotiations in earnest and to ensure that agreement on a comprehensive settlement of the devastating conflict in the country is reached without further delay,” said a statement issued by a UN spokesman in New York. “He reiterates the support of the United Nations to the peace process and its readiness to contribute to efforts to implement a peace agreement.”

The statement also noted Mr. Annan’s concern about possible continuing hostilities in some parts of the country which could once again jeopardize the talks in Machakos. “The progress that has been made so far has raised the hope of the people of Sudan and of the international community that a milestone may have been reached in the IGAD-led effort to restore peace to the country,” the statement said.

The Secretary-General also commended the parties for committing themselves to allow unimpeded humanitarian access to all areas and for people in need, in accordance with the Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) Agreement, and called on them urgently to agree on modalities for such unimpeded access, according to the statement. OLS is the UN’s umbrella organization coordinating the international relief effort in the Sudan.

“The UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator and Country Team are at an advanced stage of preparing a humanitarian action plan that will expand operations to all areas of the Sudan that have been affected by the conflict,” the statement said. “The success of the plan will depend on immediate and unimpeded access to all civilians in need.”