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UN Calls For Immediate Sudan Cease-Fire06/03 08:10


   UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The U.N. Security Council called Friday for an 
immediate cease-fire in Sudan to be followed by a permanent halt to hostilities 
and fresh efforts to reach a lasting democratic political settlement in the 
conflict-wracked country.

   The U.N.'s most powerful body strongly condemned all attacks on civilians 
since fighting between rival generals vying for power broke out in mid-April 
and called for "rapid, safe and unhindered access throughout Sudan" to help 
millions in need.

   The fighting has killed at least 866 civilians and wounded thousands more, 
according to the Sudanese Doctors' Syndicate which tracks civilian casualties. 
And more than 1.3 million people have fled their homes to try to escape the 
violence, with over a million still in the country and 320,000 in neighboring 
Egypt, South Sudan, Chad, Ethiopia, and the Central African Republic, according 
to the U.N.'s International Organization for Migration.

   The press statement from the council was issued before the council voted 
unanimously to extend the U.N. political mission in Sudan for six months, 
instead of a year, to give members time to see what happens on the ground and 
consider its future.

   United Arab Emirates Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh, the current council 
president, called it "very positive" that all members not only voted to extend 
the U.N. mission but united behind a "very substantive" statement "that lays 
out the council's expectations of what should happen next in Sudan -- and that 
is clearly an immediate and permanent cease-fire arrangement."

   The Security Council underlined the need "for strengthened international 
coordination and continued collaboration" and reaffirmed "their firm support 
for African leadership," noting the African Union's six-point roadmap to 
resolve the conflict as well as efforts by the Arab League and the regional 
group IGAD.

   Gabon's U.N. Ambassador Michel Biang told the council after the vote that 
the security situation in Sudan continues to worsen.

   "The country is at a critical stage of its history with a heightened risk of 
civil war if the conflict continues," he warned, speaking on behalf of the two 
other African members on the council, Ghana and Mozambique, as well. "And there 
is, if that occurs, a grave risk of serious consequences being visited upon all 
countries in the region."

   Biang stressed that the presence of the U.N. mission "is now more important 
than ever before to coordinate the U.N.'s response to the complex challenges 
plaguing the country."

   On Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Antnio Guterres asked to brief the 
council behind closed doors for only the fifth time since he took office in 
January 2017 about the impact of the ongoing conflict on the U.N. mission known 
as UNITAMS. It was established by the council on June 3, 2020, to provide 
support to Sudan during its political transition to democratic rule.

   In a brief statement to reporters after the meeting, the U.N. chief said he 
told the 15 council members it's up to them to decide whether to continue the 
political mission to Sudan or whether "it's time to end it."

   Following the ouster of Sudanese strongman Omar al-Bashir in 2019, Sudan 
embarked on a shaky democratic transition led by civilian and army leaders. But 
the generals seized complete power in a coup in October 2021, before turning 
against each other.

   Sudanese leader Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan and Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, 
who heads the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, agreed to restore the 
transition but clashed over the terms of the RSF's merger into the army, a 
disagreement that exploded into open conflict on April 15.

   A week ago, Burhan demanded in a letter to Guterres that the U.N. special 
envoy to Sudan, Volker Perthes, be removed, saying his approach in pre-war 
talks between the generals helped inflame the conflict and accusing him of 
"being partisan." The U.N. chief was "shocked" by the letter.

   After Wednesday's meeting, Guterres said he reaffirmed to the council "my 
full confidence in Volker Perthes."

   In Friday's statement, the Security Council reaffirmed support for UNITAMS, 
which Perthes leads, though council members did not mention him in the 

   Late Thursday, the United States and Saudi Arabia announced that they were 
suspending peace talks with representatives of the two generals that had been 
taking place in the Saudi city of Jeddah since late May. Sudan's military had 
suspended its participation in the talks Wednesday, citing "repeated 
violations" by RSF forces of a U.S.-Saudi brokered humanitarian cease-fire, 
including their continued occupation of hospitals and other civilian 
infrastructure in the capital, Khartoum. The RSF said it "unconditionally backs 
the Saudi-U.S. initiative."

   The U.S.-Saudi joint statement said the talks were being suspended "as a 
result of repeated serious violations of the short-term ceasefire and recent 
ceasefire extension" on Monday.

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