United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrived late Friday, 8 July, in Khartoum, Sudan, from Edinburgh, Scotland, to attend the ceremony inaugurating Sudan's new Government of National Unity.
Saturday morning, the Secretary-General had two bilateral meetings. He met first with Hilde Johnson, Norway's Minister for Development Cooperation, and then with United States Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick. Both were in the Sudanese capital for the inauguration ceremony, which took place in a huge tent pitched on the grounds of the Presidential Palace in Khartoum where the Blue and White Nile rivers converge.
During the ceremony, the Secretary-General witnessed the signing of the transitional constitution and the oath-taking ceremony of the President, President Omar el-Bashir, and First Vice-President John Garang, the former leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement, and Second Vice-President Ali Osman Mohammed Taha.
In his statement, the Secretary-General said he was honoured to be with the people of the Sudan on this historic day -- a day of great hope for the Sudanese people, who have suffered so long. (See Press Release SG/SM/9992-AFR/1209.)
While noting that the unity is "immensely precious", he also said "that unity is, as yet, incomplete and precarious".
"The first and most essential task of this new government must be to ensure that peace extends to the whole nation, and that national unity, as prescribed in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, is made attractive to all of Sudan's peoples", he said.
He went on to say, "The peace process between North and South must be made irreversible -- which it will not be, unless it takes root in the East and in the West, as well. As an immediate priority, therefore, the Government of National Unity must work to resolve the conflicts in Darfur and in eastern Sudan." "To secure that peace, no effort must be spared", he said.
The Secretary-General then attended an official lunch before holding a brief press encounter at Khartoum airport.
He told reporters, in response to a question about the United Nations contribution to post-conflict Sudan, that at the Group of Eight (G-8) meeting in Gleneagles, he had raised the need for donors to honour the pledges for the Sudan. He also said that he will be writing to the major donors to urge them to convert their pledges into cash.
The Secretary-General left Khartoum on Saturday afternoon for New York via London.