Speaking to the United Nations Association of Sudan upon arrival in Khartoum on Monday, Ban said the international community had stood by for too long "as seemingly helpless witness to this tragedy".

 

"We must all seize this historic opportunity," he said at the start of a six-day visit to the African nation.

 

"Everyone agrees that there is no military solution. We need a ceasefire now. The violence must stop," he added.

 

'Locking progress'

 

Ban arrived in Khartoum on Monday to jump-
start the Darfur peace process [AFP]

Ban said he wanted to see "the foundations of a lasting peace laid down".

 

"My goal is to lock in the progress we have made so far, to build on it so that this terrible trauma may one day end," he said.

 

"Yet there must be a peace to keep. Peacekeeping must be accompanied by a political solution."

 

Lam Akol, Sudan's foreign minister, in welcoming Ban's call, said "that's why we all agree that making peace is a priority".

 

He said there had been a "tremendous change" in the relationship between Sudan and the UN since late 2005 when pressure mounted on the government to end the conflict.

 

Akol said the proposal for a hybrid force had received almost overwhelming support because it was reached "through discussion and dialogue".

 

"We all believe that it is going to push the process in Darfur steps in the right direction," he added.

UN concerns

 

In video


Mohammed Adow speaks to Sudanese opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi

Last week, Ban outlined a three-point approach to the problem: deployment of the peacekeeping force, consisting of soldiers and police officers; peace talks tentatively scheduled for October; and humanitarian aid.

 

Although Darfur will be the main focus of Ban's trip, he will also visit south Sudan, where a 2005 peace deal to end a 20-year war that killed two million people appears to be faltering.

 

He is expected to discuss the issues with Omar al-Bashir, Sudan's president, and concerns about the peace agreement.


"This remains an essential, and rather fragile, cornerstone of peace across the whole of Sudan, well beyond Darfur," Ban said.

 

The UN is pressing for a quick resolution to the conflict, fearing that other problems may arise out of frustration and anger at the refugee camps.

 

The Darfur conflict has left more than 200,000 people dead and forced another 2.5 million to flee their homes.

 

Worsening situation

 

A prominent Sudanese opposition leader has told Al Jazeera that the situation in the region is getting worse every day.

"Fighting has become a way of life," Hassan al-Turabi, leader of the Popular Congress party, said.
 
"Not only between the government and its Janjiwid allies, and the resistance movements, but now between the resistance movements who have spread into the land of other tribes."

Despite this, al-Turabi said that the deployment of the joint UN-AU peacekeeping force is not necessary.

He said: "We advised the government ... you don't need African forces, you don't need European forces, we don't need them ... to die for us."