Secretary-General says Sudan’s reply on Darfur ‘not satisfactory,’ frustration grows

Secretary-General says Sudan’s reply on Darfur ‘not satisfactory,’ frustration grows

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said he had told Sudan’s President that his reply to UN calls for speedy deployment of a United Nations-African Union (AU) hybrid force for Darfur was “not satisfactory,” while dissatisfaction is growing among Member States and intensive diplomacy continues in a bid to end the conflict in the strife-torn region.

The Secretary-General spoke with Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al Bashir last Saturday by phone, when Sudan’s leader also invited him to visit the country, Mr. Ban told reporters at UN Headquarters today, adding that he had not yet made a decision on this.

“I told him that while I accept his invitation in principle the details…should be discussed through diplomatic channels. I expressed my regret [about his reply]…that he made a number of reservations on ideas that were jointly proposed by the United Nations and African Union,” Mr. Ban said, adding that he had urged Mr. Bashir to accept the proposals for the hybrid force.

“There is growing frustration among the members of the United Nations, particularly the Security Council,” the Secretary-General said in response to questions. “What is important at this time, even though we are frustrated, the political process has been going on. My Special Representative and the AU Special Representative are going to visit Sudan next week again.”

“My own hope is that as we have been going through this political dialogue with the Sudanese Government and even though the response letter of President Bashir was not a satisfactory one, now I’m in the process of making all diplomatic efforts, including AU leaders.”

Mr. Ban received the President’s letter, responding to correspondence he’d sent in January, last week. The reply also contained a 14-page annex in Arabic.

The hybrid force represents the final phase of a three-phase plan agreed to by the UN, AU and Sudanese Government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last year to help end the fighting between the Sudanese Government, allied militias and rebels seeking greater autonomy. So far the brutal conflict, which started in 2003, has killed over 200,000 people and uprooted 2.5 million more.