Sudanese leaders welcome role of UN as envoy continues talks in region

Mr. Sahnoun’s travels come as the parties continue working in Naivasha, Kenya, to finalize an accord to end Sudan’s 20-year civil war. His trip is focused on assessing the UN’s potential support for a comprehensive peace agreement.The envoy, who arrived in Kenya late last month, had “constructive exchanges” with the leaders of the two parties at the talks, First Vice-President of Sudan, Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, and the Chairman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), John Garang, according to UN officials, who said both leaders welcomed a future UN role in their country.Mr. Sahnoun also held consultations with the chief Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) mediator, Lt. General Lazaro K. Sumbeiywo.In Addis Ababa, he held in-depth discussions with the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU), Alpha Oumar Konaré, on UN-AU cooperation in implementing a comprehensive agreement. He also conferred with Tekeda Alemu, Ethiopia’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs.Mr. Sahnoun, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Adviser for Africa, is scheduled to remain in the region until 18 March for further visits and meetings.Last October, the Security Council, in a Presidential Statement, requested Mr. Annan “to initiate preparatory work, as soon as possible, in consultation with the parties, the IGAD facilitators and the International Observers, on how the United Nations could best fully support the implementation of a comprehensive peace agreement.”UN aid agencies have high expectations for peace since the ongoing conflict has been the principal source of acute suffering among the Sudanese people. Except for a brief peace from 1972 to 1983, Sudan has been plagued by civil war since gaining independence in 1956.An estimated 2 million people have died as a result of the fighting which, coupled with natural disasters, has left Sudan with the largest number of internally displaced people (IDPs) in the world – some 3 to 4 million. Hundreds of thousands of Sudanese have also sought refuge abroad.

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