November 29, 2007 (UNITED NATIONS) — U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday he was disappointed about obstacles holding up preparations for a peacekeeping force in Darfur and delays in Sudan meeting its commitments.
Earlier this week, the head of U.N. peacekeeping, Jean-Marie Guehenno, told the Security Council that a series of logistic and other obstacles raised by Sudan was putting in doubt the deployment of the hybrid African Union-U.N. force.
Guehenno said Khartoum’s reluctance to smooth the path for dispatching the 26,000-strong mission meant a decision might eventually have to be taken on whether to go through with it.
Problems detailed by Guehenno included Sudan’s objections to some non-African units, failure to provide land, curbs on helicopter flights and quest for a status of forces pact that he said “would make it impossible for the mission to operate.”
Ban echoed those concerns and said he had spoken on Thursday with “some important member states who can really work on this problem.”
Sudan’s close ally China is under pressure from Western countries to exert its influence on Khartoum over the force.
“It’s true that we’ve not yet been able to resolve all technical problems because of the delay (in) the response from the Sudanese government,” Ban told reporters. “I’m disappointed by all what is happening now.”
“There were firm commitments between myself and President (Omar Hassan al-) Bashir, and still we’ve not yet been able to resolve all these administrative things,” Ban said, adding that he hoped to speak to Bashir about the matter.
The peacekeepers are supposed to take over from a hard-pressed existing AU force in Darfur from January and bring security to its people after more than 4 1/2 years of fighting between rebels and government forces.
But Khartoum has not agreed to a Thai infantry battalion, a Nepalese special forces unit and a Nordic engineering unit that the United Nations considers vital. The United States, Britain and others have accused Sudan of foot-dragging to delay the deployment.
Sudan’s U.N. Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem said it was the United Nations which was causing the technical delays by dragging out discussions, for example on the status of forces pact. “They come to blame us. It’s very much unfair,” Abdalhaleem told reporters on Thursday.