KHARTOUM - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday urged Sudan to allow peacekeepers to stay in the strife-torn Southern Kordofan region and other areas, a day ahead of the end of their mandate.
"I have urged the Government of Sudan for technical and practical reasons for an extension of the mandate of the United Nations in Sudan, at least until the situation (in Southern Kordofan) calms down. We can not afford to have any gaps," Ban told journalists at Sudan's foreign ministry in Khartoum.
The mandate of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), which deploys 10,000 blue helmets in the country, expires on Saturday with the secession of Sudan's oil-producing south.
Khartoum has said it wants the peacekeeping force, set up to monitor the 2005 north/south peace deal that led to the independence of the south, to go. Khartoum is fighting armed groups in the northern states of Southern Kordofan and Darfur.