UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, underlining the daunting challenges faced by the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), recommended on Thursday that the Security Council renew the mission's mandate for another 12 months, until September 2006.
In his latest report to the council on Sudan, Annan said the role of international partners and donors would never be more important than at the present time, given the challenges in the south and the wider need to address nationwide security sector reform and the resettling of returnees.
UNMIS has been engaged in active consultations on a status-of-forces agreement for the south, but despite earlier optimism and pledges of cooperation, consultations with a joint committee of the government and the southern Sudan People's Liberation Army have not yet led to an agreement, he noted.
One of the key issues remaining to be resolved is the full and unrestricted freedom of movement for UNMIS, which is imperative for the fulfillment of its mandate and was previously agreed in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the government and the former rebel group, he said.
As of September 5, 2,309 military personnel were deployed in the mission area, including 153 military staff officers, 145 military observers and 2,011 troops.
Meanwhile, the report said, the parties in Darfur, western Sudan, especially the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA), are to meet with the government in Abuja, Nigeria, this week, but grave human rights violations have continued in the region.
"Divisions within the rebel movements, particularly SLA, are likely to be a challenge during the talks. I strongly urge SLA to resolve its internal differences and to attend the 6th round of talks prepared to negotiate and reach agreement on the relevant substantive issues," he added.
(Xinhua News Agency September 16, 2005)