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Volume 685: debated on Monday 9 October 2006

Sudan remains a top priority for the UK Government. The Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are jointly supporting parties in Sudan to deliver the Darfur peace agreement (DPA) signed on 5 May, and to promote development in Sudan. The UK played a leading role in securing UN Security Council Resolution 1706, which was passed on 31 August. This resolution expands the mandate of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) to Darfur in support of the early and effective implementation of the Darfur peace agreement and the N’djamena agreement, and strengthens the military personnel and civilian component of UNMIS to do this.

The passage of Resolution 1706 demonstrates the international community’s continued commitment to peace in Darfur. In the interests of the safety and welfare of its civilians, we continue to press the Sudanese Government, at the highest level, to give consent to its implementation. We are concerting with others in the international community, including the UN, US and key Arab states, to achieve this. I raised this with Egyptian President Mubarak and the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, in Cairo last week. And both my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development and my noble friend the Minister for Africa, Lord Triesman, have been engaging key interlocutors in the Government of Sudan and beyond.

In the mean time we will continue to support the African Union’s efforts while a transition is under way. The African Union is doing an important job in the most difficult of circumstances and it is most important that they stay until a UN force is able to deploy. On 18 July, the international community in Brussels promised further support of around $200 million, including the £20 million that the UK is providing this year.

The continuing violence in Darfur is having devastating effects. It must stop immediately. We condemn the continuing violations of the ceasefire by all parties, particularly the violence directed at civilians and attacks on humanitarian agencies. Because of this insecurity the UN and NGOs are unable to reach 470,000 people whom they believe to be in need of their assistance.

We are also gravely concerned by the recent military build-up in Darfur and reports of Sudanese Government military attacks as part of their “stabilisation plan for Darfur”. As the UN Secretary-General has said, this plan is inconsistent with the DPA. Any attempt to take renewed military action and any continued rebel activity would further undermine the prospects of achieving peace and could lead to a further humanitarian catastrophe.

A broad based and inclusive implementation of the DPA, signed in Abuja on 5 May 2006, remains the basis for stability, peace and reconciliation in Darfur. The UK played a leading role in negotiations in Abuja: the Secretary of State for International Development attended the final days of negotiations in support of the AU mediation to help secure a deal. All parties should work to put its provisions into effect. More rapid progress by the Government of Sudan in disarming the Janjaweed is key. It is also important for the signatories to the DPA to work to bring the non-signatories on board. To this end, the efforts of the SPLM are most welcome.

In the mean time, the non-signatories need to be fully involved in the effective monitoring of the ceasefire and investigation of violations through existing ceasefire mechanisms. In this way, they should be fully held to account for fulfilling their obligations as set out in the 2004 N’djamena Agreement on Humanitarian Ceasefire on the Conflict in Darfur.

The UK remains committed to peace in Darfur and the wider Sudan. We will continue to seek a solution to the conflict there. As part of this, we have appointed a new special representative for Darfur, William Patey, a former ambassador in Khartoum, to replace Rod Pullen, who has retired from the Diplomatic Service.