Afrique en Ligue


Haile Menkerios

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has deployed an outstanding Eritrean diplomat, Haile Menkerios, as the new Special Envoy to Sudan, replacing Pakistan’s Ashraf Qazi, who said on Sunday he was leaving earlier for personal reasons.

A top-ranking diplomat, Menkerios, who held the position of the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, will take over the running of the UN Mission in Sudan (AMIS). He would be the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to Sudan and the head of the AMIS.

His posting comes just months to Sudan’s multi-party presidential elections in April 2010. A political referendum in Southern Sudan, which could see the semi-autonomous region gain independence, is also due in January, 2011.

‘It is for personal reasons, family reasons, that I have requested the Secretary-General to relieve me of my responsibilities much sooner than I would have wished for because I certainly would have liked at least to see the elections,’ Qazi told a news conference in Sudan.

Announcing his replacement, the out-going Special Envoy, Qazi, said: ‘He is a wonderful individual and is known and is respected in the north and in the south and has huge UN experience â” Haile Menkerios will do an absolutely splendid job and you will all find that out.’

Menkerios travelled with UN chief, Ban, during his last visit to Africa, where both attended the African Union Summit in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

The issue of the referendum in Southern Sudan and whether it might lead to further instability dominated the African

Junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara talks with UN Assistant Secretary General Haile Menkerios (l) in Conakry (Photo: Sia Kambou/AFP)

Union (AU) Summit discussions, both at the Presidential and the Ministerial levels, PANA reports.

Menkerios served as Eritrea’s ambassador to Ethiopia for almost 10 years. He was Eritrea’s best known ambassador to the Organisation of African Unity, now, the AU. Eritrea has not had any diplomatic ties with Ethiopi a following a military confrontation in the late 1990s.

As the UN’s Director in charge of African Division, Menkerios executed some of the key decisions involving the conflicts in Africa during his tenure.

He is best remembered for his involvement in the mediation of the Inter-Congolese Dialogue, which led to the signing of an agreement, which was later to see the end of the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He was then the Senior Advisor to Mustapha Niasse, UN Special envoy to the Inter-Congolese Dialogue.

Menkerios has been involved in the mediation of the conflicts in Africa, taking his last mission as the special envoy to the crisis in Madagascar in February, 2009, where he attempted to resolve the stand-off between Malagasy President, Marc Ravalomanana and would-be coup leader Andry Rajoelina.

He also served as the UN envoy to Zimbabwe following the post-election crisis in the Southern Africa nation.

His posting to Sudan comes as the world’s attention shifts to the country’s multi-party elections.