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Sudan: UN official attends African Union meeting on north-south peace deal

Sudan: UN official attends African Union meeting on north-south peace deal

A top United Nations official in Sudan is taking part today in an African Union (AU) meeting being held to review the progress made so far towards implementing the comprehensive peace agreement that ended the long-running civil war between north and south.

Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, the Secretary-General’s acting Special Representative for Sudan, is in Addis Ababa, the capital of neighbouring Ethiopia, for a meeting of the AU’s Peace and Security Council, UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters.

The comprehensive peace agreement between the Sudanese Government and the former southern rebels in January 2005 ended the war and provided some autonomy to the south, while also leading to the establishment of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) to help implement the deal.

In his latest progress report on the work of UNMIS and the implementation of the pact, issued earlier this week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced regret that the Sudanese armed forces missed a deadline to re-deploy out of the south of the country.

Mr. Ban called on the military to immediately remove from the south all of its remaining elements, with the exception of those soldiers designated for new joint integrated units with the former rebels, known as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).

Although most of the Sudanese military had re-deployed by the 9 July deadline, at least 3,600 troops still remain, mostly in Upper Nile state. The armed forces say they are necessary to protect oilfields pending the placement of the joint integrated units, but this is disputed by the SPLA.

Mr. Ban wrote that the development of those integrated units “remains an issue of central importance,” with the assignment of troops to them now nine months overdue. He also noted that their formation is a prerequisite for SPLA forces to fully re-deploy from Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

The Secretary-General also said that management of Sudan’s oil sector, uncertainty over the status of Abyei, a disputed area, and agreement over the boundary between north and south will be key issues for the parties and UNMIS to resolve in the months ahead.

Meanwhile, in the western Sudanese region of Darfur, where a separate conflict has raged since 2003, UN humanitarian agencies are reporting that there has been an increase in the number of cases of jaundice at camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in South Darfur state.

In West Darfur state, UNMIS reported that two IDP camps have received fresh arrivals of Darfurians fleeing fresh tensions in the vast and impoverished region.