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Ban Ki-moon welcomes Sudanese move to allow ill Darfurian leader to travel

Ban Ki-moon welcomes Sudanese move to allow ill Darfurian leader to travel

Ban Ki-moon (L) and President  Al-Bashir
The Sudanese Government has allowed the United Nations to arrange for the travel of a key Darfurian elder and former rebel group figure to Kenya for medical treatment, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced today after meeting with Sudan’s President during his visit to the country.

Mr. Ban said the decision by President Omar al-Bashir to allow Suleiman Jamous, a former member of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), one of Darfur’s many rebel groups, to leave the country will “create conditions conducive to peace negotiations.”

Earlier this month, UN and African Union (AU) envoys Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim vowed to pursue the case of Mr. Jamous, who had been detained by Sudanese authorities, “in view of the role Mr. Jamous can play in the political process.”

Full-fledged peace talks between the Sudanese Government and Darfur’s rebel groups are expected to be staged later this year, possibly by as early as next month, in a bid to resolve the underlying issues – including a lack of economic development – driving the conflict that since 2003 has led to the deaths of more than 200,000 people.

Another 2.2 million Sudanese have had to flee their homes because of the fighting between the rebels, Government forces and allied militias known as the Janjaweed. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued warrants for the arrest of two suspects over alleged war crimes in Darfur, and the UN and AU have announced they are setting up a hybrid peacekeeping force (to be known as UNAMID) to try to quell the violence.

Last night, Mr. Ban held a working dinner with Mr. Bashir at the presidential guesthouse in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, before he headed today to Juba in southern Sudan.

There he met with Salva Kiir, the President of Southern Sudan and the First Vice President of Sudan, to discuss the implementation of the January 2005 comprehensive peace agreement that ended the long-running north-south civil war.

“It is crucially important that we implement this comprehensive peace agreement,” he said. “For that to be possible, it is again important that leaders of both north and south Sudan, President Bashir and President Kiir, are fully committed and closely coordinate.”

Mr. Ban stressed that he was well aware of several remaining issues at dispute, such as demarcation, the redeployment of forces and the status of the area around Abyei, but he hoped “a strong political commitment” from both sides could resolve any impasse.

The Secretary-General also met with key local officials and with some of the staff of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) that was set up to help implement the comprehensive peace agreement.

In an address to Juba University, Mr. Ban acknowledged that “there is still a long way to go before southern Sudan can fully recover from decades of conflict and insufficient development” and asked the people of the region to “work as hard for peace as you did to uphold the rights of the people of southern Sudan all these years.”