UNITED NATIONS (FinalCall.com) РAlthough CNN had been reporting since early afternoon on May 5 that there was a peace agreement signed between the government of Sudan and the main rebel group the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) at the Inter-Sudanese Peace Talks in Abuja, Nigeria, there was still apprehension in the corridors of the UN because no official communiqu̩ had reached the 38th floor at the secretariat.

Finally, shortly after 5 p.m., the Sudanese deputy ambassador, Omar Bashir Mohamed Manis stepped to the microphones in the press stakeout area outside of the UN Security Council chambers to say that he had received a message an hour earlier stating that such an agreement did really exist.

“I am very glad to announce that the government in Sudan and one of the main rebel movements have signed a peace agreement on Darfur, something that we have been waiting for, for a long time in order to bring normalization in the region,” Ambassador Manis told reporters, “and to allow the civilian population and displace persons to go back to their villages to begin again to live normal lives.”


When a reporter asked him if the peace agreement would allow for a UN assessment mission to enter Darfur to determine what needed to be done to help the people, the ambassador said that he “had yet to get the details of the peace agreement to see what the parties had agreed to.”

The Sudanese deputy ambassador sternly stated: “Our focus right now is on the peace, not what the UN should be doing.”

Another reporter asked what made the agreement happen.

“I think it is because of the will of the parties and the active participation of the partners, regional and international and the African Union. A lot of effort has been invested,” he further observed.

“Why do you think it will hold this time?” asked another reporter.

“Time was right for an agreement. The conflict has gone on for almost three years now and there is a strong will, the suffering of the people and a desire to have normalcy in the country,” Ambassador Manis answered, adding there is no guarantee except the political will of the parties.”

“Will you now be welcoming military planners?” asked a reporter.

“We will cross that bridge when we come to it. We have just signed the peace agreement one hour ago. As an ambassador, I am not in a position to say yes or no,” the ambassador answered, dismissing himself from the press area.

“The media only wanted to ask about what the UN would do. There were no questions on how we feel. This is good news,” Ambassador Manis told The Final Call.

If the press was not overjoyed, Secretary-General Kofi Annan certainly was. “I welcome the agreement signed between the government of Sudan and the main rebel group. I urge the other two parties to seize the historic moment and sign the agreement that will bring this tragic chapter in the history of Sudan to an end,” stated Mr. Annan.

He then turned his attention to the humanitarian needs of the Sudanese people. “We need to intensify our own humanitarian efforts and we need the resources required to do this. We have so far received only 20 percent of the resources required,” he told reporters.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, a total of 3.5 million people are currently in need of humanitarian assistance. More than 14,000 national and international relief workers are assisting the conflict-affected area.

A reporter asked Mr. Annan if he would name nations and regions where commitments had not been made concerning humanitarian aid. “The U.S. has been very generous, but we are looking at the other traditional donors in Europe and the Gulf States,” Mr. Annan answered. He said that he would like to see the average man and woman in the street show the generosity they displayed during the tsunami. “All hands on deck, and whoever can make a contribution, we would urge them to do it, not leave it to governments alone.”

Reporters were concerned about the Janjaweed and the pro-government militia and how the Sudanese government would be able to keep them under control.

It is not going to be an easy exercise, the secretary-general stated. “In fact, that was one of the issues that held back the agreement, and I think there has been some understanding; I don’t have the details,” explained Mr. Annan.

During a press conference on May 8, President George Bush said, “We will stand up in unison until the peace in Darfur is secure.” He pledged five shiploads of food and informed that he will ask Congress for an additional $225 million in aid.

“The American people will stand by the people of Darfur,” the American president stated, further adding that he is sending Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the United Nations on May 9 to support the sending of more troops to Darfur.

According to the UN, there are, 10,000 peacekeeping troops in Sudan.