Annan presses Sudan on UN force

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Could this be another 'Hotel Rowanda'? Your thoughts please, good, bad, ugly?

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has called on the Sudanese government to allow a UN assessment team into the war-torn region of Darfur.
He said the international community needed to move rapidly "to have the right impact on the ground".

Top UN humanitarian official Jan Egeland is due to arrive in Sudan on Saturday to tour the troubled region.

His visit comes a day after Khartoum and the largest rebel group in Darfur signed a peace deal.

Two smaller rebel groups rejected the deal, after intense talks in Nigeria.

The three-year conflict has killed about 200,000 and left about two million homeless.

'Move expeditiously'

Welcoming the peace deal, Mr Annan said the international community must immediately help strengthen the 7,000-strong African Union force in Darfur so it can implement the peace plan on the ground.

And he urged the Khartoum government to issue visas to his team of assessors so they can begin planning for the arrival of an international peacekeeping force to replace the African troops later in the year.

Seize this historic moment and sign the agreement which will bring this tragic chapter in the history of Sudan to an end

Kofi Annan
UN Secretary General

Khartoum has said in the past it would only consider inviting in UN troops if a peace deal was reached.

"Now is the time for them to allow the assessment mission to go in, for us to move expeditiously," Mr Annan said.

Mr Egeland, the UN's Emergency Relief Coordinator, will be the first UN official to visit Darfur since the signing of the peace agreement.

He said prior to his visit that access for aid workers in Darfur is at its worst level in two years.

The peace plan, brokered by the African Union, creates a temporary regional government for Darfur, in which rebels will take part.

The pro-government Janjaweed militia are to be disbanded and the rebels incorporated into the security forces.

Deadlines came and went in recent days, as diplomats exerted pressure on parties after all the rebels had rejected the original draft.
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