Sudan

Sudan: UN mission chief heads for West Darfur on fact-finding trip

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The chief of the United Nations mission in Sudan today headed for West Darfur to join a team scheduled to start work tomorrow on assessing how far Khartoum has gone in fulfilling its pledges to the Security Council to restore peace in the area.

Jan Pronk, head of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), told a news conference before leaving Khartoum that some progress had been achieved in the year since Secretary-General Kofi Annan and representatives of the Government of Sudan signed a Joint Communiqué setting out what had to be done under the Joint Implementation Mechanism (JIM).

The JIM teams, including representatives of the Sudanese Government, would send Mr. Annan a report on their findings, which he would include in his report to the Security Council, Mr. Pronk said.

On the closed-door African Union (AU) peace talks which resumed on Friday in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, after a six-month stand-off, Mr. Pronk noted that AU mediator Salim Ahmed Salim was in charge. No government outside of the process, especially neighbouring Eritrea or Chad, should interfere in the process or push for its own interests, he said.

Chad houses more than 200,000 refugees from Darfur and Eritrea hosts the Sudanese opposition, including Darfur's major rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

Mr. Pronk said Sudan had made a constructive statement in Abuja and the rebel groups' statements were less aggressive than those they made in previous rounds.

On the question of the Special Court which the Sudanese said they would launch today, he said he was pleased that such a court had been set up in answer to the Joint Communiqué and it should function on the basis of internationally agreed criteria for such courts. On the other hand, it was no substitute for the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Rome and the ICC was no alternative to the Special Court, he said.

The UN Security Council has given the ICC the names of 51 people blamed for war crimes in the conflict between the Khartoum Government, allied militia and rebels in Darfur. ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said that he concluded that the statutory requirements for initiating an investigation were satisfied after analyzing thousands of documents and interviewing over 50 independent experts.