19 April 2006

Security Council Briefed by African Union's Envoy for Darfur; Says Powersharing Formula at Centre of Mediation Proposals

NEW YORK, 18 April (UN Headquarters) -- A powersharing formula was at the centre of proposals made by the African Union Mediation in the Darfur conflict, Salim Ahmed Salim, the regional body's Special Envoy and Chief Mediator for the Inter-Sudanese Peace Talks on the Darfur Conflict, told the Security Council this afternoon.

He said, during a briefing to the Council, that the Mediation had listened exhaustively to the parties regarding a set of issues concerning Darfur's representation in the Presidency, National Executive and National Assembly, Darfur's status within the Sudan and the make-up of the region's three state governments.  That also applied to the question of fair representation for Darfurians in the Sudan's national institutions and the commissions envisaged under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

The Government of the Sudan was beginning to show some flexibility on those issues, he said, expressing the hope that differences could be narrowed.  The Darfur Movements [the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army] should move in the same direction amid the Mediation's efforts to address their concerns.  The proposals would be informed by the flexibility indicated by the Government and by the Mediation's understanding both of the Movements' legitimate fears and of the aspirations of Darfurians in general.

Regarding wealth sharing, he said four issues remained outstanding:  assistance to enable internally displaced persons and refugees to restart their livelihoods; a formula for transfers from the National Government to the states; seed money for the Darfur Reconstruction and Development Fund; and compensation for communities and individuals victimized by the conflict.  While the compensation and Darfur Fund questions were the most controversial, the Mediation remained convinced that, given political will and commitment on the part of the parties, all those issues could be resolved without further delay.

Stressing that security arrangements would probably make or break the Abuja negotiations, he pointed out the complexity of arranging both an immediate ceasefire and long-term final status arrangements.  Darfur was home to myriad armed and dangerous militia, including the Janjaweed, fragmenting armed movements, bandits, foreign combatants and tribal forces.  The Mediation had proposed the disengagement of forces, redeployment, disarmament of the Janjaweed, control and neutralization of militia, policing and enhancement of security for camps housing internally displaced persons, security of nomadic migration corridors and demilitarization of humanitarian supply routes.

The proposed Enhanced Ceasefire Agreement stipulated that the control and neutralization of the Janjaweed and undisciplined militia was a prerequisite for a ceasefire and a peace agreement in Darfur, he said.  Those steps must be sequenced with various stages of the implementation of the Enhanced Ceasefire Agreement.  Only after each step was satisfactorily completed would the Movements be obliged reciprocally to withdraw and redeploy their forces, and accept limited arms control.  The Mediation was also linking the final disarmament of the Janjaweed and other militia forces with the assembling of the Movements' forces.  Similarly, the parallel processes of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration should proceed alongside integration of former Movement combatants into the Sudan's Armed Forces and other security services, on the basis of criteria to be agreed by the parties as part of a comprehensive package.

He said that the Force Commander of the African Mission in Sudan (AMIS) was designing a detailed implementation plan on how to redeploy his forces to undertake considerable additional tasks in the context of the new arrangements.  The AMIS would have to perform numerous complex tasks during the early implementation of the envisaged ceasefire, including verification of force positions on the ground, monitoring of disengagement and redeployment, and patrolling of demilitarized zones and humanitarian supply routes.  In addition, AMIS civilian police would have to play an important role in monitoring additional locations and building up community police capacity wherever it was lacking.

While African Heads of State were ready to lend their personal engagement and to contribute troops, he said, the Security Council should extend maximum support to AMIS, so that the ceasefire agreement, once signed, could be followed up by upgrading and empowerment of the Mission, which, as presently constituted, was not optimally equipped to fulfil its mandate.  That problem would become even more acute with the added responsibility that would come with the comprehensive ceasefire agreement.  There was no point in calling for the speedy conclusion of such an agreement if nothing would be done to prepare AMIS for its expanded mandate.

Though the African Union would continue to play a leading role in the political aspects of the peace process and the implementation of the envisaged agreement, the role of its partners would also be important in providing support and encouragement, especially in terms of financing, logistics, human resources and expertise.

He said that the challenges for the Council included not only being seized of today's crisis and the peace process, which was still incomplete, but also seeking ways to engage with the post-conflict challenges ahead.  Hopefully the Council would also continue to help Chad and the Sudan to find a solution to the problems that had developed between them.

The meeting began at 3:10 p.m. and ended at 3:35 p.m., as Council members went into a closed session.

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