Ban points to progress in Sudan (yeah right)

(Why is Mr.Ban so enthused about regressive action?, how many more years will the Darfurians have to endure their plight whilst the so called humanitarians of the world use them as resume builders. How many more rounds of talks and bogus peace deals before the requisite number of people are slaughtered, starved and depived of hope?.)
Ban points to progress in Sudan
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon leaves Sudan after a four-day visit. The BBC’s UN correspondent Laura Trevelyan is travelling with Mr Ban and looks at what his visit has achieved.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at a refugee camp in Darfur, Sudan

Mr Ban has worked away doggedly behind the scenes on Darfur

We are going to be getting on that plane feeling very good, a senior UN official told me.

The aide cited Mr Ban’s success in pressing President Omar al-Bashir to allow an ailing Darfur rebel Suleiman Jamous to travel abroad for treatment without being arrested.

Getting a date and a venue for new Darfur peace talks between the government of Sudan and the rebel factions is a step forward.

There is a clear message coming from the Sudanese say UN officials – the time for peace is now, we want help.

The atmosphere between the UN and the Sudanese government is also improving.

There was a climate of goodwill and reciprocity, say officials, rather than confrontation and bludgeoning.

Realist vs philosopher

Relations were at a low after the previous UN representative in Sudan, Jan Pronk, criticised the Sudanese government on his blog.

Fighters of the Sudan Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/M) Minni Minawi faction. File photo

The rebel movement in Darfur has fractured over the last year

By contrast, Mr Ban and President Bashir seem to be developing a good working relationship.

After a sticky start when the pair first met in January at the African Union summit, President Bashir gave the secretary general a public bear hug this time.

Mr Ban is said to have amicable conversations with the Sudanese leader.

Certainly the secretary general has worked away doggedly behind the scenes on Darfur.

After months of prevarication, in June the Sudanese government finally agreed to accept a joint African Union/United Nations peacekeeping force in Darfur.

Renewed peace talks will take place in Libya in October. There was progress for Mr Ban to point to.

He has been telling reporters on this trip that he is a realist, not a philosopher. He wants results.


Getting results in Darfur is not easy and Mr Ban had an introduction to the complexities of the politics in the troubled region when he visited on Wednesday.

Pro-government demonstrators demanded to be included in a meeting Mr Ban was holding with leaders of the displaced people in the camps.

Darfur rebel leader Abdul Wahid (archive)

Abdul Wahid, a key rebel leader, refuses to attend peace talks

This breach of security in the UN compound set Mr Ban’s security team on edge, and they drastically reduced the number of reporters who were to visit the Al Salaam camp with him.

One UN negotiator said he was never optimistic about Darfur, but for once there were a few encouraging signs.

However, there are clearly hurdles ahead. Despite the talks next month in Libya, Abdul Wahid, a key rebel leader, has already told the BBC he will not attend.

The fledgling AU/UN peacekeeping force needs communications support, attack helicopters, logistical support – and the Western nations who usually provide those units are overstretched, already deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr Ban is not to be deterred. The secretary general always uses the same set of words to describe his diplomatic encounters – encouraging, constructive, good.

But it looks as though all those meetings just may be making some progress.

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