, UNITED NATIONS, Feb 2 – UN chief Ban Ki-moon has named one of his top aides, Haile Menkerios of Eritrea, as his new envoy to Sudan, a UN spokesman said Monday.
Farhan Haq told a briefing here that Menkerios, an assistant secretary general for political affairs and a seasoned troubleshooter familiar with African conflicts, would be the new head of the UN mission in Sudan (UNMIS), succeeding Ashraf Qazi.
Qazi, a Pakistani, had been the UNMIS boss since September 2007, replacing Jan Pronk of the Netherlands who had been expelled for criticizing the army in 2006.
UNMIS was set up to support implementation of the January 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed by the government in Khartoum and the Sudan People\\\\\\\’s Liberation Movement/Army.
Nine candidates are meanwhile expected to run against Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir in the country\\\\\\\’s April 11 polls.
The presidential vote is to be held in conjunction with parliamentary and regional elections as part of the troubled African country\\\\\\\’s first multi-party ballot since 1986.
The elections are taking place as part of the 2005 CPA between the Muslim north and largely Christian south that ended a 22-year civil war.
The CPA also allowed the creation of a semi-autonomous government for the south and paved the way for a referendum on southern independence scheduled for January 2011.
Ban Ki-moon said in Addis Ababa Saturday it was vital the elections and the referendum were carried out in a credible, transparent way in what would be a crucial 12-month period for Sudan.
Last March, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Beshir on five counts of crimes against humanity and two of war crimes committed in Sudan\\\\\\\’s war-torn western Darfur region — its first-ever warrant for a sitting head of state.
The United Nations says up to 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million have fled their homes since ethnic minority rebels in Darfur rose up against the Arab-dominated regime in Khartoum in February 2003.