Peace in southern Sudan critical to resolving Darfur conflict Annan says

Making good on his promise to travel to southern Sudan when there is peace, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today held talks in Rumbek with John Garang, the Chairman of the Sudan Liberation People’s Movement (SPLM), and emphasized that a political settlement of that area’s long-running conflict would contribute to a resolution in strife-torn Darfur, where he met with refugees and local leaders on Saturday.In Rumbek, Mr. Annan and Dr. Garang discussed the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended years of war between north and south, according to a UN spokeswoman travelling with the delegation. The Secretary-General heard about the acute humanitarian needs in southern Sudan, which is experiencing a surge in unplanned voluntary return of refugees from abroad.A sandstorm in Khartoum late in the day Sunday forced the Secretary-General to cancel his scheduled return to the Sudanese capital for a meeting with the country’s President. Also while in Rumbek, the Secretary-General addressed the National Constitutional Review Commission, saying that a political settlement in southern Sudan would help achieve a resolution to the Darfur conflict. “Your work is proving that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is a roadmap to sustainable peace,” he said. “This will give hope to the people of Darfur.”Mr. Annan acknowledged the central role of the Sudanese in implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement but added that the international community must also deliver on promised support. “I have appealed to them to do so and will continue to press for full and complete funding of humanitarian, recovery and development activities in Southern Sudan,” he pledged.He pledged to redouble his efforts to press the international community to make good on their pledges of humanitarian assistance. “Cash today is better than cash tomorrow,” he said, adding “and it can save lots of lives.”Delegates to the Commission will debate and review the draft Interim National Constitution, an effort considered essential to establishing the basis for the Government of National Unity and for the other institutions critical to the interim period. Mr. Annan urged those present to complete their work in a timely manner. “The momentum of the peace process depends on it,” he said.The Secretary-General also said those responsible for work on the constitution should strive to include a broad base of participants. “Civil society organizations, political parties, and the ordinary people of Sudan must feel part of what you are doing.”He also appealed for maintaining the “impressive array of human rights provisions” in the draft constitution. On the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), which was created in response to the peace agreement, Mr. Annan said the first troops have been deployed to Kassala and more would soon follow in other areas.“The United Nations will work with you until this peace has firmly taken root,” he told those present, urging them to join forces to “build a new Sudan, free of conflict and fear and full of hope and prosperity.”Speaking to reporters at Juba airport earlier in the day, Mr. Annan noted that the UN has been engaged in south Sudan for over 21 years. “We have always been conscious of the needs of the people of the south,” he said. “And even as we speak, we’ve been pressing to get additional resources, not only to help the humanitarian front but also to help to implement the peace agreement and eventually for recover and reconstruction.”At a welcoming ceremony in Rumbek, he said he had come because of “the promise of peace.” He added that Dr. Garang and all the Sudanese “have to keep their part of the bargain by making the peace agreement hold and stabilizing it.” read more