9 August 2004 -- The action plan approved by the government in Khartoum aims to restore peace in the country's western region of Darfur, where Arab janjaweed militia fighters are accused of genocide and ethnic cleansing.
The plan was drawn up jointly by Sudan's Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail and UN envoy Jan Pronk. Sudanese state-run Omdurman radio says the agreement calls for so-called "safe areas" to be set up for Darfur's displaced population. The Sudanese government is tasked by the plan with securing specific villages and camps, as well as setting up safe access routes for convoys to deliver humanitarian aid.
A cease-fire between government forces and rebel fighters is to be called within the safe areas. While Khartoum has promised it will ensure that pro-government militias in Darfur lay down their weapons, a team from the African Union, along with other international monitors, are to ensure that rebel forces do the same. Some UN experts arrived in Darfur on 9 August to help set up that monitoring mission.
"After 30 days, the Security Council is going to get a report. On the basis of this report -- if there is no substantial progress -- the Security Council has declared it will consider action. The idea is to show, through the Security Council, that the government of Sudan can show substantive progress in terms of security on the ground"
The approval of the action plan by Khartoum follows a recent UN Security Council resolution that threatens sanctions against Sudan unless it ends violence by the janjaweed.
UN envoy Pronk says the Security Council will be closely following developments in Darfur during the weeks ahead.
"After 30 days, the Security Council is going to get a report. On the basis of this report -- if there is no substantial progress -- the Security Council has declared it will consider action. The idea is to show, through the Security Council, that the government of Sudan can show substantive progress in terms of security on the ground," Pronk said.
Pronk says the key issue now is for Sudan to implement the action plan so that violence ends and humanitarian aid can be delivered.
"If the government of Sudan would not implement the commitment made in that specific action plan, then the Security Council will have its own thoughts. The ball is, at the moment, in the corner of the government of Sudan," Pronk said.
At an extraordinary meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo on 8 August, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said member states are inclined toward helping Sudan avoid international sanctions. In a final resolution at that gathering, Arab League foreign ministers rejected the threat of sanctions or the deployment of Western troops in Darfur as peacekeepers.
Instead, they opted to support the efforts of the African Union to defuse the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. The African Union has said it would be willing to deploy up to 2,000 troops in Darfur, but Khartoum rejects the idea of transforming the international monitoring mission into a peacekeeping force.