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Security Council members set for Nairobi meeting

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The UN Security Council has backed AU proposals to grant President Gbagbo another year in office
Members of the United Nations Security Council were due to begin a two-day meeting in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Thursday morning to discuss conflict resolution in Sudan and the peace process in Somalia, UN sources said. Jean-Victor Nkolo, media advisor to the secretariat for the Council meeting in Nairobi, told IRIN on Tuesday that the session would discuss the crisis in the Darfur region of western Sudan, the long-running conflict in the south and the situation in Somalia. Council members arrived in Kenya on Wednesday, UN News service reported. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, travelled to Nairobi and was scheduled to address the Council session on Thursday, it added. Annan's Special Representative for the Sudan Jan Pronk, the Sudanese Vice President Ali Uthman Taha and the leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), John Garang, also arrived in Nairobi ahead of the meeting. The Council consists of five permanent members - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. The other non-permanent members are currently Algeria, Angola, Benin, Brazil, Chile, Germany, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania and Spain. A delegation from the African Union (AU) would hold consultations with the Council on how to strengthen cooperation between the two organisations, a statement from the AU said. The AU is trying to broker a peace deal between Khartoum and insurgents fighting the Sudanese government in the western region of Darfur. The meeting was also to be attended by representatives of the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is spearheading peace talks between Khartoum and the SPLM/A. IGAD also facilitated a two-year Somali reconciliation conference in Nairobi that culminated in the formation of a parliament and the election of a president for the strife-torn country last month. Several African heads of state were expected in Nairobi for the Council meeting, including the current chairman of IGAD, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and the AU Chairman and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo. Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki would also attend. The 15 members of the Council are expected to travel to Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda after the Nairobi meeting, from 20 to 25 November. The decision to meet in Nairobi was made last month. The US Ambassador to the UN, John Danforth, will chair the Council meeting in Nairobi. Ahead of the meeting, human rights groups urged the Council to hold those responsible for atrocities in the Sudan accountable. "The impunity enjoyed by the Sudanese authorities in their ongoing atrocities in Darfur demonstrates why the near-final peace deal to end the country’s North-South conflict must include accountability for human rights abuses," Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement issued on Thursday. "Unless they are held accountable for abuses in the south, the Sudanese authorities will continue to believe they can get away with murder in Darfur," Jemera Rone, Sudan researcher for HRW said in the statement. "There’s still time for Security Council members meeting in Nairobi to insist that the final peace agreement includes accountability for past abuses and protections against future ones." HRW called for the prosecution of those implicated in grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Sudan and the creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to ensure full disclosure of human rights abuses in the armed conflicts that have ravaged Sudan since 1983. It urged international mediators to insist that both the government and rebels be held accountable for past abuses, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. On Tuesday, Amnesty International (AI), in a report titled: "Sudan: Arming the perpetrators of grave abuses in Darfur", accused foreign governments of allowing the supply of various types of arms into Sudan. "Foreign governments have enabled the government of Sudan to arm and deploy untrained and unaccountable militias that have deliberately and indiscriminately killed civilians in Darfur on a large scale - destroying homes, looting property and forcibly displacing the population," AI said. "The tragedy of Darfur is that the international community, already heavily engaged in the North-South peace process in Sudan, took far too long to recognise the state-sponsored pattern of violence and displacement and failed to act earlier to protect the population," it added. The report gives details of attacks against civilians by government-allied militias in Darfur. "Now, over a large area of Darfur, villages are destroyed or emptied of their population - the people driven out have swollen the numbers in towns or gathered in camps for displaced persons. Some have fled to Chad, Khartoum or elsewhere inside or out of Sudan," it noted. "Amnesty International specifically requests member states of the Security Council to impose a mandatory arms embargo on Sudan to stop those supplies [from] reaching the parties to the conflict in Darfur, including the government forces, until effective safeguards are in place to protect civilians from grave human rights abuses," AI said. The conflict in Darfur pits Sudanese government troops and militias allied to it against the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equity Movement (JEM), which are fighting to end what they have called marginalisation and discrimination of the region by the state. The conflict has displaced an estimated 1.45 million people and sent another 200,000 fleeing across the border into Chad. Talks in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, between the Sudanese government and the rebels reached a deadlock early this month over a proposal to create a no-fly zone in the troubled area. The SLM/A and JEM, which have fought the government for the past 20 months, had agreed to sign the document, Khartoum did not. The AU’s chief mediator, Allam-Mi Ahmad, said on 6 November that the talks were on the brink of failure. "We have done everything possible trying to reconcile the different positions," Ahmad said. Two previous rounds of talks between the participants failed to yield an agreement. On Wednesday, the UN Advance Mission in Sudan (UNAMIS) reported that internally displaced people had accused the police of firing indiscriminately at Kalma camp in South Darfur over the weekend. The government, UNAMIS said, reported that rebels within the camp had fired on police positions, forcing an exchange of gunfire. UNAMIS also reported that residents in camps around El-Geneina were increasingly concerned about the presence of armed men in and around their camps. They said that gunshots were being fired during the night. The conflict between the SPLM/A and the Sudanese government in the south erupted in 1983 when the rebels in the mainly Christian and animist region took up arms against authorities based in the Muslim, largely Arabised north to demand greater autonomy for their region. In May, both sides signed six key protocols during talks in Naivasha, Kenya, covering power-sharing arrangements and the administration of three contested areas during a six-year interim period that will precede a referendum to determine whether the south would remain part of Sudan. The Nairobi meeting is the fourth time that the Council has met away from UN headquarters in New York, and its first formal meeting in the Kenyan capital. The UN Information Centre in Nairobi has accredited more than 400 national and international reporters to cover the event.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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