(Reuters) U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on Sudan on Wednesday to quickly approve the makeup of a U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur, but Khartoum faulted donor states for delaying its deployment.
"The situation in Darfur is at a crossroads," Ban said in his latest monthly report on implementing a July Security Council resolution authorizing the U.N.-African Union force.
He said peace talks in Libya launched last month presented a unique opportunity that must be seized by all parties, and timely deployment of the peacekeeping force was critical.
Ban warned that preparations for the joint UNAMID peacekeeping force to take over from a hard-pressed AU force at the end of this year were being hampered by poor security and because Sudan has yet to approve the composition of the force.
"I am concerned that the security incidents over the past month and the continuing delays in the deployment of UNAMID could lead to a further deterioration in the situation on the ground," he said.
Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who has been accused by the United States and other Western countries of foot-dragging on the peacekeepers, said he was ready for the force to be deployed, but funding was an obstacle.
"We have comprehensive agreements with the United Nations. ... All that is needed now is the execution of funding," Bashir told a news conference with South African President Thabo Mbeki in South Africa.
A U.N. official said the world body had mechanisms in place to spend money before a budget is officially approved and it was already doing so to support the AU force. "What's at issue are the operational challenges of moving into an area as inhospitable as Darfur," the official said.