Author`s name Marnat Anna

Sudan: security council passes resolution to speed U.N. peacekeeping force in Darfur

The resolution, passed unanimously, also threatens "strong and effective measures" - diplomatic language for sanctions - against anyone who stands in the way of a May 5 peace agreement signed by the Sudanese government and Darfur's main rebel group.

According to the document, the council demands that an assessment team deploy to Sudan within a week to prepare for the United Nations to take control of an African Union-led peacekeeping mission now in Darfur, the AP reports.

That mission, which has been underfunded and poorly equipped, has largely been unable to end the suffering in Darfur, where fighting between rebels and government-backed militias known as the Janjaweed has killed nearly 200,000 people since 2003, according to the AP.

Sudan's government, however, has given conflicting signals about whether it will allow the U.N. to take over the force now that the peace deal has been signed. On Monday, Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol said direct U.N.-Sudanese talks would be necessary before any U.N. force could be deployed.

He also said the peace agreement "rendered the issue of the transfer of AU mission to the U.N. no longer relevant."

Sudan's position was supported by council members China, Russia and Qatar, which stressed that the mission could not go ahead unless Sudan agrees to it. They had initially opposed some elements of the resolution but backed it after the African Union expressed its support.