June 26, 2008 (STOCKHOLM, Sweden) — The top U.N. envoy to Darfur, Jan Eliasson, is resigning from his job to make room for a new full-time chief negotiator, the Swedish Foreign Ministry said Thursday
Eliasson, a former Swedish foreign minister, said he would continue to work as a special adviser on Darfur, but “the situation is so serious now it is extremely important to find realistic lines of action,” according to state-run radio.
Earlier this month, he said efforts to restart peace talks had reached an impasse.
Fighting has raged in the western Sudanese region since ethnic African tribesmen took up arms in 2003, complaining of decades of neglect and discrimination. The Arab-dominated Sudanese government is accused of responding by unleashing tribal militia, known as janjaweed, which have committed atrocities against Darfur’s local communities.
More than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced in the violence.
Eliasson and the African Union’s envoy to Darfur, Salim Ahmed Salim, suggested the U.N. Security Council appoint a full-time negotiator, according to Swedish Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Petra Hansson.
Swedish radio cited unnamed sources as saying Burkina Faso Foreign Minister Djibrill Bossole may be considered for the job.
According to a U.N. Security Council resolution, there should be 20,000 peacekeepers and 5,000 police deployed in Darfur, the radio report quoted Eliasson as saying.
“Today we have fewer than 10,000, so the Security Council should take its responsibility and implement the resolutions that it passes,” he said, according to the radio report.
“There is reason to be critical toward the fact that it has not been possible to implement the Security Council’s resolution,” he was quoted as saying.