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UN Security Council Votes to End Peacekeeping Force for Sudan

A gunner from Zambia serving with the international peacekeeping operation is seen on an armored personnel carrier during a patrol in the region of Abyei, central Sudan, May 30, 2011

The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously Monday to formally end the U.N. peacekeeping force in Sudan.

The peacekeeping force was sent to Sudan to monitor the 2005 peace agreement that ended the north-south civil war.

With the establishment of South Sudan as an independent state on Saturday, Sudan requested the withdrawal of the 10,400 peacekeepers. The Security Council resolution formally withdraws that peacekeeping force.

The completion date for the withdrawal is set for August 31. Staff, equipment, supplies and other assets from the peacekeepers in Sudan will be sent to the U.N. peacekeeping force established last week for South Sudan, and to peacekeepers in the disputed Abyei border area.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as recently as last week, unsuccessfully tried to persuade Sudan’s government to accept the continuation of the peacekeepers so they could deal with remaining issues.

Following the Security Council action Monday, U.S. representative to the U.N. Susan Rice said the U.S. deeply regrets the necessity to vote on the resolution ending the mandate for the Sudan peacekeepers. Rice urged Sudan to reconsider its demand that the peacekeepers end their activities. She said the mission has a critical role to continue to play in regional stability.

“The United States is sending a clear message along with other Council members that it wants the United Nations to remain in the two areas, especially at this critical juncture," said Rice. "With this resolution, the Council has made clear that it is ready to authorize continued U.N. operations in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile to support new security arrangements. And we will continue over the coming weeks to urge the government of Sudan to accept this.”

Britain’s representative, Mark Lyall Grant, also said it was with regret that his country supported the resolution ending the peacekeeping mandate for Sudan.

“We reiterate the readiness of this Council as set out in the resolution which we have just adopted both to continue current U.N. operations in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, and to assist the parties in implementation of new arrangements to be agreed between them," said Lyall Grant.

France’s representative Gerard Araud said his country regrets that the withdrawal of the peacekeepers is happening at a time when a cease-fire has not yet been signed for Southern Kordofan, where he said the civilian population continues to suffer from combat.