Peace process fragile in Sudan cautions UN envoy

“Each points up the fragility of the peace process. Each serves as a cautionary reminder of the potential consequences for Sudan and its people should the peace process unravel or derail,” Ashraf Qazi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sudan, told reporters in the capital, Khartoum, today.After violence in May, tens of thousands of residents fled from Abyei, which lies in an oil-rich area close to the boundary between northern and southern Sudan. Also in May, members of the Darfur rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), launched an attack on Omdurman, near Khartoum.Mr. Qazi, who also heads the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), said there were also reasons for optimism, noting that the implementation of a recent agreement to settle the conflict over Abyei provided a strong indication of the parties’ commitment to peace. “I hope that the appointment of a Chief and Deputy Administrator will soon be followed by the full establishment of the interim administration and move us all closer to the day when those displaced by May’s fighting can return in safety and dignity to resume their lives in a secure environment,” he said.The UN envoy added that the results of the national census, which was carried out earlier this year, would provide a vital planning tool for development and public services and assist with delineation of electoral constituencies. He also noted that Sudan had passed an electoral law and work was under way to set up a National Electoral Commission.Mr. Qazi is to due to brief the Security Council on the work of UNMIS next week. 14 August 2008The top United Nations envoy to Sudan says that recent violent clashes in the town of Abyei as well as the attack by a rebel group on the city of Omdurman have put the country’s 2005 peace agreement to the test and created challenges over the past months.

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