June 12, 2008 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government expressed reservations on two potential candidates to fill the position of the UN-African Union (AU) mediator for Darfur, a newspaper reported today.
The daily Al-Ahdath quoting unidentified Sudanese official said that the UN and AU submitted the names of two candidates, a Lebanese and a Senegalese but Khartoum rejected them.
The official said that the consultations with the UN and AU on the new mediator “are still underway”.
Earlier this month Jan Eliasson, the UN Secretary General special envoy to Darfur announced that a new joint mediator will be soon appointed. Eliasson was working with his AU counterpart Salim Ahmed Salim with little success.
The role of the UN envoy that was imposed by the former UN chief Kofi Annan was to take the lead from the “contested” Salim. But Eliasson for long time followed Salim. Rebel groups, who were discreetly disappointed, dealt with him because he represents the international community.
However, Eliasson said would remain as an adviser of the new joint UN-African Union mediator.
“The Secretary General [Ban Ki-moon], whom I met in Stockholm three days ago, has asked me to follow the issue on an advisory function,” Eliasson said.
The Sudanese official said his government wants a mediator “who is competent, able to overcome the setbacks of Salim and Eliasson; full time and residing in Khartoum; with a firm understanding with the Darfur issue”.
He stressed that the Khartoum is not concerned about the nationality of the mediator.
Peace negotiations between the warring Darfuri parties have failed over boycott by the main rebel groups.
According to the UN up to 300,000 people have died and more than 2.2 million have fled their homes since the Darfur conflict broke out in February 2003. But Khartoum government says only less than 10,000 have been killed.