UN, AU can provide critical help on Sudanese people's journey towards lasting peace, UN SG tells Security Council

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Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's remarks to the Security Council's briefing by the African Union High-level Panel on the Sudan, in New York today, 21 December:

I am honoured to be with you today, and to welcome this esteemed delegation. Today's meeting is an important symbol of collaboration between the African Union and the United Nations. It is also another concrete demonstration of our common commitment to work with the Sudanese people in addressing the serious challenges they face.

Today the Panel will brief you on their report which has been adopted in its entirety by the African Union Peace and Security Council. The Council also established a High-level Implementation Panel comprised of former Presidents Thabo Mbeki, Pierre Buyoya and retired General Abdulsalami Abubakar. We are privileged to receive their first-hand briefing.

The report of the High-level Panel provides a frank assessment and insightful analysis of the situation in Sudan and offers numerous proposals for the way forward. Perhaps above all, the Panel members have insisted on seeing Sudan in its totality. They have clearly articulated the links between the crisis in Darfur and broader efforts to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

Their insights come at a critical moment. In little more than three months, elections are scheduled to take place. In just over a year, the two referenda are scheduled, which will determine the future shape of Sudan. The National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM), as the two parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, have taken steps to prepare for these major events, but there is still much to be done.

We must remember that neither the election nor the referenda are ends in themselves. Managing the results -- whatever the outcome -- will require genuine cooperation between the NCP and the SPLM. In the meantime, violence -- in South Sudan in particular -- is occurring on a disturbing scale and frequency.

In Darfur, the peace process has reached a critical point. Chief Mediator Djibril Bassolé has been working with the Government of Qatar to generate momentum by giving civil society a strong voice at the peace talks. Representatives of civil society and armed movements have agreed to resume consultations in Doha on 18 January next, which will be followed by direct talks between the Government and the movements on 24 January 2010.

Efforts must continue to encourage the Government, and more especially the rebel movements, to make concessions and embrace the consensus which Mr. Bassolé is building. In my view, the High-level Implementation Panel, and the international community at large, has a critical role to play here. By giving Mr. Bassolé our unequivocal support, we will send a strong message to all parties that they must engage in the negotiations he is leading.

Beyond this, the Panel can make an invaluable contribution to the "soft-landing" we are all working towards after the election and referenda, by helping the parties to the CPA to bridge their differences. This is an outcome that is badly needed for Sudan itself, but also for Sudan's neighbours and, indeed, for all of Africa. The High-level Panel also addressed the difficult issues of justice and reconciliation in Sudan. Their efforts to develop creative and pragmatic proposals are highly commendable.

We must keep sight of the importance of compliance with Security Council resolution 1593 (2005), referring the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court.

I have just concluded a very productive meeting with the visiting delegation, in the course of which we agreed on the importance of continuing close AU-UN cooperation on Sudan. Beyond our co-management of UNAMID, we must make every effort to ensure that the activities of the United Nations in Sudan and the work of the African Union's High-level Implementation Panel are mutually supportive.

It will be the Sudanese people who solve Sudan's problems. But working together, the United Nations and the African Union can provide them with critical assistance on their difficult journey towards lasting peace and prosperity.

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