Rodolphe Adada, 61, has been appointed Joint AU-UN Special Representative for Darfur, according to a statement issued by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and AU Commission Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konaré.
Mr. Adada will have overall authority over the hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur, oversee the implementation of its mandate and be responsible for its management and functioning.
The new mission, which is expected to deploy about 17,000 troops and 3,000 police officers, will be the final phase in a three-step process in which the UN is supporting and enhancing the existing but under-resourced AU peacekeeping mission to Darfur, known as AMIS. Most of the troops in the hybrid force will be African.
As part of the first phase, known as the "light support package," the UN handed over medical support items ranging from a fully equipped ambulance to pharmaceutical products such as drugs and vaccines to AMIS.
Today's announcement about Mr. Adada referred to the conclusions reached by the UN, the AU and the Sudanese Government at a high-level meeting in Addis Ababa in mid-November last year and endorsed subsequently by the AU and Khartoum.
The UN and AU have stepped up their peacemaking efforts over the past year amid mounting international concern at the situation inside Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have been killed and at least 2 million others forced to flee their homes since 2003.
Mr. Ban has described Darfur as the scene of the world's worst humanitarian crisis and the conflict between Government forces, allied Janjaweed militias - notorious for their attacks on civilians - and rebel groups has threatened to spill into neighbouring Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR).
The individual Special Envoys of the UN and the AU for Darfur, Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim, respectively, are scheduled to arrive in Khartoum today for a two-day visit, their third to the country as part of their joint efforts to revitalize the political process.
Before the visit to Khartoum, the two envoys travelled to Cairo for talks with the Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States Amr Moussa.