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UNSC Adopts Resolution on Sudan

The United Nations Security Council on Friday unanimously adopted a resolution on Sudan covering both the long-running north-south war and the more recent crisis in its western Darfur region.

In this resolution, the Security Council reaffirmed "its commitment to the sovereignty, unity, independence and territorial integrity of Sudan."

The Security Council demanded that the Sudanese government and rebel forces and all other armed groups "immediately cease all violence and attacks," including abduction, refrain from forcible relocation of civilians, cooperate with international humanitarian relief and monitoring efforts.

The resolution, passed with 15 favorable vote, encouraged the parties in Sudan's peace process to conclude speedily a comprehensive peace agreement, and stressing the need for the international community, once such an agreement has been signed and implementations begins, to provide assistance toward its implementation.

It also called on all countries in the region to "do their utmost" to support actively the full and timely implementation of a comprehensive peace agreement.

The Security Council said it "strongly" supported the African Union's Oct. 20 decision to increase its mission in Darfur to 3,320 personnel, and urged the government of Sudan and all rebel groups in Darfur to cooperate fully with the African Union.

The session, held in Kenya's capital Nairobi, is the fourth time the Security Council meets outside of the UN headquarters in New York since 1952 and the first in 14 years. The council met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1972, in Panama City in 1973 and then in Geneva in 1990.

The council hoped through the Nairobi meeting, a final comprehensive ceasefire will be ironed out for the south, before the end of the year, pushing for a solution to the Darfur crisis.

Sudan's north-south peace process and Darfur crisis have topped the agenda of the two-day meeting, organized by John Danforth, this month's council president and Bush administration's former envoy to jump-start the north-south Sudan talks.

During the session, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called for an early conclusion of Sudan's north-south peace talks and an speedy end of Darfur crisis.

"It is high time to conclude the negotiations between the government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement and Army (SPLM/A) and start implementing what has been agreed," the UN chief said.

"The effects of delay are felt not only in the south, but elsewhere too, as conflict spreads to more parts of the country. That is why the time for decision is now. There is no time to waste," Annan said.

The UN secretary general said the speedy conclusion of the north-south talks would not only help curb the further spread of conflict to other parts of the country. It would also serve as a basis and a catalyst for the resolution of existing conflicts.

Addressing the council on Thursday, John Garang, leader of southern Sudan's main rebel group SPLM/A, said he was committed to the new year-end deadline.

"I see no reason, no serious obstacle, that would prevent us from signing the final peace agreement by the end of this year 2004," he said.

His negotiating counterpart, Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha, also spoke of signing a ceasefire "as soon as possible."

And before the vote of the Security Council on Friday morning, the Sudanese government and southern rebels signed an agreement, pledging to reach a final peace deal by the end of the year.

The parties declare their commitment in the agreement that they will "expeditiously complete negotiations on the two annexed on Ceasefire Agreement and Implementations Modalities so as to conclude and sign a comprehensive peace agreement no later than Dec. 31, 2004."

Civil war in southern Sudan was ignited in 1983 when rebels took up arms against the government to demand greater autonomy for the south. The 21-year conflict has claimed lives of some 2 million people.

Since 1993, Sudan peace talks has been held in Kenya, under the auspices of Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, aiming attending the longest civil war in the continent.

As Africa's largest country, Sudan was also annoyed by the Darfur crisis in recent two years. The Darfur region has plunged into conflict since February 2003, when two rebel forces took up arms against the Khartoum government, accusing the authorities of not protecting them from the attacks of "Janjaweed" militia and demanding autonomy.

The Darfur crisis has been termed by the United Nations as the world's worst humanitarian crisis, in which thousands were killed and one million others displaced.

On July 30, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution, threatening sanctions against Sudan if it fails to disarm the marauding militia in the Darfur region and to prosecute its leaders.

(Xinhua News Agency November 20, 2004)

Sudanese Gov't, Rebels Adjourn Talks
Abuja Talks Show Ray of Hope for Darfur Despite Slow Progress
Sudan Ready to Sign Protocol on Darfur Crisis
African Union to Finalize Security Protocol on Darfur Crisis
Peace Talks for Sudan's Darfur Region Restart in Nigeria
Sudan Welcomes UN Commission to Darfur
UN Mounts Pressure on Sudan over Darfur Crisis
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