Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol announced on Monday that his
government had approved a "heavy support" package from the UN for
the African Union (AU)peacekeeping mission in Darfur.
He told a press conference that the approval was made after the
difference on the deployment of attack helicopters was ironed out
after his government had agreed limited number of such helicopters
as a part of the "heavy support" package.
During a tripartite meeting in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa
on April 9, representatives of the UN, the AU and the Sudanese
government reached an agreement in principle to inaugurate the
second phase of a UN support plan for the AU mission in Darfur,
known as "the heavy support phase."
But the Sudanese government's opposition for the deployment of
attack helicopters in Darfur had blocked the scheduled
implementation of the second phase after the "light support"
package had been delivered in the first phase.
"Sudan has approved completely what had been discussed in the
tripartite meeting in Addis Ababa, opening the way for the steps to
be taken on the heavy support package," the Sudanese foreign
He stressed the importance that the United Nations adopts a
resolution on financing the proposed UN-AU hybrid force before the
African countries can be demanded to contribute more troops for the
Akol said that the UN and the AU would make a decision on the
size of the hybrid force in coordination with the Sudanese
government according to previous agreements reached by the three
The latest development comes following a wave of visits by
foreign envoys in Khartoum in the past 10 days, including Chinese
government special envoy Zhai Juan and Libyan leader Muammar
Gaddafi's special envoy Abdel Salem Triki as well as US Deputy
Secretary of State John Negroponte.
During Zhai's visit in Sudan on April 6-9, the Chinese envoy
asked the Sudanese government to show more flexibility on the
three-phase support plan to "respond to the concerns of all the
parties concerned," while noting that all discussions and
consultations should be conducted "on the basis of equality."
The support plan was also known as the Annan plan as it was put
forward by then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and accepted in
principle by all the three parties in their meeting in Addis Ababa
on Nov. 16 last year.
It stipulates that the UN increases gradually its logistic,
technical and human power support for the 7800-strong African
peacekeeping force in Darfur until a joint UN-AU force is
The Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday that Sudanese
President Omer al-Bashir had called the Saudi king and announced
that Sudan has signed a joint agreement with the UN and the AU on
the implementation of the Annan plan.
Local analysts believe that the Sudanese government's approval
for the attack helicopters came apparently after compromises made
by Washington on the command of the hybrid force, which Khartoum
said should remain in the African's hand.
At a press conference held in Khartoum on Monday morning before
ending his five-day visit to Sudan, Negroponte called for a quick
deployment of the UN-AU hybrid force, saying that the troops would
be predominantly African and would be commanded by an African.
"We must move quickly to a larger hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping
force with a single unified chain of command that conforms to UN
standards and practices," Negroponte said.
"We also acknowledge and have agreed that the preponderance, the
majority of these forces will be recruited from African countries
and the commander of this UN-AU force will also be from Africa," he
(Xinhua News Agency April 17, 2007)