SG Panel arrives in Sudan ahead of the Referendum, U.S. applies financial sanctions against Gbagbo and more from UN Direct

Côte d’Ivoire: today the U.S. leveled financial sanctions against Gbagbo and his wife, as well as senior members within his inner circle, preventing them from engaging in financial transactions with U.S. citizens.  It is expected that next week a formal request for an increase of between 1,000-2,000 peacekeepers will be presented to the Council.  At present, UNOCI is comprised of roughly 10,000 troops.

Sudan: today the SG’s Panel on the Referendum in the Sudan arrived in the country, where it plans to to monitor the polls next week, as well as meet with key stakeholders from the Government, Southern Sudan Referendum Commission, international and domestic observer groups and the diplomatic community.  This morning, Le Roy briefed the Council on referendum preparations, reporting that 3.9 million voters have registered.  At present, the results are expected to be declared February 6.  High Commissioner Pillay is calling on parties not to abuse voter rights, adding that it’s critical for the Government to thwart to any attempts to intimidate groups or undermine the results.

Darfur: Ibrahim Gambari, the Joint Special Representative of UNAMID, told staff in El Fasher today that the key priorities in 2011 include the need to work towards a more stable and secure environment, including the protection of civilians. He urged his staff to support the Darfur peace and political process as well as the search for a comprehensive settlement which addresses the root causes of the conflict.  He also listed the return of IDPs and refugees as another top priority for the year.