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Volume 450: debated on Thursday 12 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps she plans to take to ensure that the 5 May Darfur peace accord is implemented by all parties. (87446)

We remain in close touch with the Government of Sudan, Minni Minawi, leader of one faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement, and the African Union (AU) and are urging them to move ahead rapidly with the implementation of the agreement.

We are looking at what assistance we can offer to the key commissions which will be set up under the agreement. A key part of the implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) is securing broader support for it. In August, the UK’s Special Representative for Darfur and our Embassy staff in Khartoum began a programme of meetings with non-signatories to the DPA in Darfur to secure their support for the DPA. Our ambassador in Asmara has met non-signatories based in Eritrea. We will go on engaging with these groups. We will also continue to call on all parties to the conflict in Darfur to abide by the DPA and to cease hostilities. We are pressing the AU to investigate all acts of violence and ensure that it publicises and takes action on its findings.

The UK has played a leading role in the planning process for an international recovery programme for Darfur, including providing funding and technical expertise for it. And we are helping the AU to publicise the DPA and its benefits in Darfur and across Sudan.

The implementation of the security aspects of the DPA will be helped by the deployment of a UN force in Darfur. The UK piloted the negotiations on Resolution 1706, which mandated such a force, through the Security Council, and has been at the forefront of efforts to persuade President Bashir to accept such a force.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has also launched an initiative with international partners to encourage the Government of Sudan, inter alia, to accept a UN force and to engage properly with the non-signatories. Ministers attended a series of meetings with members of the UN at the UN General Assembly in New York from 18 to 22 September to discuss Sudan. We are working to bring together a broad coalition of countries to deliver a co-ordinated message to President Bashir.

The AU force in Darfur has the task of implementing the security aspects of the DPA until a UN force can take over. We welcome the AU’s decision at its 20 September Peace and Security Council meeting to extend its mandate to the end of the year and to increase the number of troops in Darfur. It is vital that the AU has enough resources to carry out its task. It is important for the UN to provide material and logistical support, as mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 1706, as soon as possible, and for the Arab League to make good its pledge of financial assistance.