Republic of Congo calls for increased support for joint UNAU mission in

29 September 2008Bringing an end to the protracted conflict in Darfur, on Sudan’s western flank, would serve as a catalyst for peace across the wider region, a top official from the Republic of Congo said today, calling for stepped-up support for the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission known as UNAMID. “We welcome the resumption of diplomatic relations between [Chad and Sudan], an initiative that needs to be further consolidated through putting in place military units of surveillance at the common border lines,” Basile Ikouebe, Foreign Minister of the Republic of the Congo, told the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate.He encouraged the neighbouring nations to pursue all avenues towards normalizing relations and consolidating regional peace.“Solving the conflict in Darfur would contribute largely to these developments,” Mr. Ikouebe said, launching a “pressing appeal” to allow for the deployment at full strength of a 26,000-troop strong UNAMID.Currently, it has only 9,900 personnel on the ground and still lacks essential equipment, including helicopters.For its part, the Republic of Congo is preparing to send 140-person police unit to join UNAMID, the Foreign Minister noted.But he stressed that the international community must continue its efforts to implement the terms of the peace agreement concluded in Abuja, Nigeria, in 2006 between the Government of Sudan and the largest rebel force.“The parties who are not signatories to the Accord should be targeted and pressure exerted to bring them to the negotiation tables,” Mr. Ikouebe said, adding that his country believes the recent war crimes charges laid by the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor against the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir are “counterproductive.”Some 300,000 people in Darfur are estimated to have been killed, either through direct combat or as a result of disease, malnutrition or reduced life expectancy, and more than 2.7 million others have been uprooted from their homes in the five-year conflict that pits rebels against Government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen.In an earlier address today, Yemen’s Foreign Minister Abubakr Al-Qibri also spoke out against the ICC prosecutor’s move to try to indict Mr. al-Bashir.Such matters should not be used as a pretext for interfering in the internal affairs of individual States, he said, calling for greater respect for Sudanese independence and encouraging Government dialogue with various factions. read more