Following is the statement of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the inauguration of the Sudanese Presidency in Khartoum, Sudan, 9 July:
I am honoured to be with you on this historic day -- a day of great hope for the Sudanese people, who have suffered so long.
After so many years of division and conflict, and six months of intensive preparations since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed, you now have a Government of National Unity.
That unity is, as yet, incomplete and precarious. But it is immensely precious. During the six-year interim period that lies ahead, all of you, the Sudanese, and all of us, your friends in the international community, must work together to preserve and nourish this tender plant, so that it grows into a sturdy tree of peace, prosperity and freedom for all the people of Sudan.
Today marks the culmination of a long peacemaking effort that was carried on mainly outside Sudan: in Machakos, Naivasha, Nairobi, Cairo, and elsewhere. Now the peace must be brought home and implemented within Sudan, so that all its people -- North and South, East and West -- can come together to rebuild their lives and their country.
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. That will mean setting aside old suspicions and party differences, establishing relations based on mutual trust, embracing religious tolerance, and working together, in genuine partnership, for the good of the whole country.
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.
The humanitarian crisis in Darfur has been contained, but not resolved, for the moment, thanks to a massive international effort. But only a comprehensive political solution can bring an end to the conflict and suffering there. That is why we all welcome the Declaration of Principles agreed in Abuja a few days ago, just as we applaud the recent Cairo Agreement between the outgoing government and the National Democratic Alliance.
By the same token, I hope direct talks between this new Government and the movements in the East will now begin without delay. And I call on all armed groups that have not yet joined this national process, as well as members of the political opposition, to play their part in implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement through non-violent, democratic means, and help prepare for free and fair elections in three years' time.
As General Sumbeiywo has said, the international community has been with Sudan in the search for peace, and stands ready to help with its implementation. Needless to say, it expects the Sudanese Parties to fulfil, promptly and completely, the commitments that they have made. In return, it offers not only moral support, but also peacekeepers and observers, financial and technical assistance and advice.
For the first time in many years, a lasting peace for all the people of Sudan is now within reach. To secure that peace, no effort must be spared. All of us -- Sudanese and foreigners, Northerners and Southerners, Easterners and Westerners, men and women -- must now join hands to make it a reality.