Get Adobe Flash player

Daily Archives: December 7, 2007

UN chief sends top officials for Darfur talks

UN chief Ban Ki-moon is dispatching two top aides to discuss the make-up of a proposed UN-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur with the president of Sudan, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

UN Assistant Secretary General for peacekeeping operations Edmond Mulet and Ban's deputy chief of staff Kim Won-soo travel to Lisbon on Thursday to meet with Sudan's President Omar al-Beshir, spokeswoman Marie Okabe said.

Bashir will be in the Portuguese capital attending a European Union-Africa summit this weekend.

The UN officials will try to persuade Beshir to lift his objections to UN plans to include soldiers from Nepal, Thailand and Scandinavian countries in an international peacekeeping force of 26,000 for Darfur. African soldiers are expected to make up the bulk of the force.

Getting the UN-African Union force off the ground has been beset by logistical problems, especially the world body's inability to get any of its member states to provide 24 helicopters for critical air mobility and firepower.

War in Sudan's western region of Darfur pits black ethnic groups against government troops backed by Arab militias. More than 200,000 people have been killed from fighting, famine and disease in the region since 2003, according to international organisations.

Ukrainian leader nominates Tymoshenko for PM

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko yesterday nominated his Orange Revolution ally Yulia Tymoshenko to become prime minister, the presidential administration said in a statement.

Yushchenko "has submitted to parliament his proposal to nominate Yulia Tymoshenko to the prime minister's post," the statement said, without stating when a confirmation vote would take place.

To be confirmed in the post Tymoshenko needs to have the vote of at least 226 of parliament's 450 members.

On Tuesday a presidential ally Arseni Yatsenyuk was confirmed as parliament speaker with 227 votes.

If it goes ahead, Tymoshenko's confirmation would spell the end of a fraught period of co-habitation between the pro-Western president and his more pro-Russian rival, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.

Pro-Western forces ended up with a narrow lead after parliamentary polls in September that were called to resolve months of bitter wrangling between Yushchenko and Yanukovych.

Nonetheless relations have also been tense between Yushchenko and the ambitious Tymoshenko, who is seen as likely to make a bid for the presidency when elections are held either in 2010 or 2011.

The two stood shoulder-to-shoulder in peaceful mass protests known as the Orange Revolution that brought Yushchenko to power in 2005 after a stand-off over a rigged election initially given to Yanukovych.

After Yushchenko won a re-run to the fraudulent election Tymoshenko became his first prime minister in February 2005, but their relations quickly deteriorated and the president sacked her in September of the same year.