U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan says the Sudanese government must show progress in disarming outlawed militias by the end of this month. Some Sudanese officials have objected to a recent Security Council resolution that could bring international sanctions unless the government disarms the Janjaweed militia. Some officials in Khartoum say that is not enough time. U.N. officials acknowledge there is confusion in Sudan over the government's obligations under a Security Council resolution passed on Friday. Speaking to reporters after a briefing with council members, Mr. Annan clarified the resolution's 30-day requirement.
"I don't think the [Security] Council asked them to complete disarmament in 30 days but they should be able to take steps to calm the situation, to stop the attacks, to protect the people, and continue the disarmament," he said. "There should be no confusion and no excuses. The emphasis is on protection of the population and disarmament of the Janjaweed and other outlawed forces."
Mr. Annan also praised the African Union's plan to send more troops to Sudan. He says now, up to two thousand may be deployed, rather than the initial 300.
"The force would protect the monitors," he added. "It would protect the recruitment camps for the rebels and the groups who are to be disarmed. And I expect its mere presence on the ground would also have a positive impact and dissuade any further attacks by Janjaweed and outlaw groups."
The U.N.'s special representative for displaced persons, Francis Deng, who recently returned from a trip to Sudan, said that help from the international community would be best received in Sudan if it came in the form of support for the African Union (AU) forces.
"I think for some reason the fact that the AU has come out and said that this is an African problem which Africans should solve has given the Sudan a sort of umbrella, or a cover, that is making the AU more appealing to them, compared to what else could happen," he said.
On Wednesday, tens of thousands of pro-government protesters in Khartoum demonstrated against the prospect of foreign military intervention. Many criticized the United Nations and Mr. Annan for bowing to what they say is U.S. pressure to interfere in Sudan.