UN chief, Nigerian leader discuss Sudan, Libya

May 24, 2011 12:00 am

, ABUJA, May 24 – UN chief Ban Ki-moon and Nigeria\’s newly-elected leader Goodluck Jonathan on Monday discussed the crises in southern Sudan and Libya and proposed reforms of the global body.

Meeting in Abuja they "discussed the deterioration of the security situation in Southern Sudan," said a statement from Ban\’s office, after violence broke out in Sudan\’s flashpoint town of Abyei.

The United Nations mission in Sudan said the town was ablaze Monday with gunmen looting property after its capture by northern troops.

Soon-to-be independent south Sudan also claims Abyei district, which has a special status under a 2005 peace deal that ended 22 years of civil war. It has called the occupation "illegal".

World powers have condemned the seizure as a threat to peace between north and south Sudan.

On the second and final day of Ban\’s visit to Nigeria, he and Jonathan also agreed on "the need for consensus with regard to the situation in Libya," the UN chief\’s spokeswoman said.

Earlier Ban met Nigerian Foreign Minister Odein Ajumogobia.

"We talked about the challenges still prevailing in Libya with the call for ceasefire and how that might be handled," Ajumogobia told reporters.

Ban commended Jonathan for his role in helping resolve the crisis in Ivory Coast.

As chair of a West African grouping ECOWAS, Nigeria took a leading role in calling on the former strongman Laurent Gbagbo to step down for elected and internationally recognised leader Alassane Ouattara.

Even as Gbagbo has been ousted and Ouattara installed, Jonathan warned that the cocoa-producing country still needed international backing.

"There is a critical need for the international community to remain engaged in Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) especially with respect to the urgent work of reconstruction; and the challenges of disarmament, demobilization and rehabilitation," said Jonathan.

Ban arrived in Nigeria Sunday, his first trip here since taking office in 2007, from Ivory Coast where he attended the inauguration of Ouattara on Saturday. He flies out to Ethiopia on Tuesday.

Nigeria, which is seeking permanent membership of the Security Council, also took opportunity to lobby the Secretary General on UN reforms.

"A situation where Africa is totally excluded from the permanent membership of the Council is unfair and untenable," Jonathan said in remarks to Ban distributed to the media.

"Given the realities of today\’s world, a comprehensive reform of the United Nations system is imperative at this time," said Jonathan.

Ban said UN member states have been discussing the issue for the past 20 years but are still to negotiate and agree on the modalities.

"If I may say, in general terms member states agree and this is a widely shared view, that considering such a dramatic and significant changes in international situation, the Security Council should be changed and reformed in a more democratic and representative way," Ban told reporters after talks with foreign minister.

Ban said last month\’s elections, hailed as the fairest in Nigeria\’s history, pointed to "matured democracy."

The two men also discussed efforts to combat global terrorism. A young Nigerian was arrested after a botched 2009 Christmas Day plot attributed to Al-Qaeda, to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner with explosives stitched into his underwear.

And Ban praised Nigeria\’s "generous contribution" of troops to UN peace keeping operations.

His trip was focused on a campaign to combat deaths among young children and pregnant women.

Nigeria, Africa\’s most populous country with 150 million people, has one of the highest child and maternal mortality rates in the world.

"We have to prevent all these women and children who are dying needlessly from preventable diseases," said Ban.


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