Security Council Passes Resolution to Speed U.N. Peacekeeping Force in Darfur

The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution Tuesday that would accelerate planning for a United Nations peacekeeping force in Sudan's Darfur region.

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.

CountryWatch: Sudan

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.

Sudan's government had blocked the team but recently signaled it would lift its opposition because of the landmark peace deal.

The resolution came a day after the African Union agreed to transfer authority for its 7,300-member peacekeeping force in Darfur to the United Nations by the end of September, or earlier if the U.N. is ready.

The council urged those rebel groups that haven't signed the peace agreement to do so immediately. A splinter faction of the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement and the rebel Justice and Equality Movement have resisted pressure to join.

On Monday, the African Union had given those groups until May 31 to join the peace deal. In its resolution the council said it would "consider taking, including in response to a request by the African Union, strong and effective measures ... against an individual or group that violates or attempts to block" the peace deal.