U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is
appealing to the Security Council to give him more time to find a
diplomatic solution to the crisis in Darfur before imposing economic and
military sanctions on the Sudanese government of President Omar al-Bashir.
The secretary-general's appeal was made Sunday at a news conference in
Geneva. Lisa Schlein has details.
U.N. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon says resolving the crisis in Darfur
is one of his highest priorities. He says he believes he has made some
progress. He points to a recent commitment from the Sudanese government to
let the United Nations deploy several thousand peacekeepers to boost the
African Union's 7,000-strong troop level in Darfur.
The secretary-general calls this the first positive signal in five
months of serious negotiations with the Sudanese government and says he
would like more time to build on this.
"I know that the patience level is going down on the part of the
international community. There are some members of the Security Council,
particularly the United States and United Kingdom, they have been
discussing this - imposing sanctions against Sudan," he said. "But, my
position is that when the moment of truth comes, they will know that they
will not be faithful in implementing this commitment, then I would leave
it to the Security Council members to take necessary measures against
The Security Council already has imposed some limited restrictions on
arms shipments to Sudan, the rebels and the Sudanese-backed janjaweed
A recently leaked U.N. report describes serious violations of the arms
embargo by the government of Omar al-Bashir. It accuses the government of
painting a false U.N. insignia on an air force plane, which then was used
to deliver bombs. The report calls for more sanctions to be applied and
for the imposition of a no-flight zone over Darfur to protect villages
from air attack.
Last year, the United Nations and Khartoum agreed on a three-phase
stabilization plan for Darfur. Secretary-General Ban says the two parties
are in the second phase, which involves the deployment of several thousand
U.N. troops. He says he wants to see whether Sudan faithfully implements
its part of this agreement before considering more drastic action.
"Since I am new as a Secretary-General, even though you may not have
full confidence on President Bashir of Sudan," he added. "But, since he
has given me commitment and he has given me for the first time a positive
agreement, then let me have some more political space so that I can
continue this political process and discussions on this peacekeeping
operations in Darfur."
The third and final phase of the plan calls for the deployment of a
joint African Union/United Nations force of 17,000 troops and 3,000 police
officers. Until now, the Sudanese government has rejected this hybrid unit
and said it would only allow a larger A.U. force with logistical support
from the United Nations.
The war in Darfur has killed an estimated 200,000 people, displaced
more than 2.5 million people and caused well over 200,000 others to seek
shelter in neighboring Chad.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls this unacceptable.