New York: United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon has named his special envoy to Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, as new head of the UN-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur, Ban`s office said Thursday on its website.
The veteran Nigerian diplomat will begin his new appointment as joint special representative of the UNAMID mission on January 1, 2010, the UN said.
He replaces Congolese diplomat Rodolphe Adada, who stepped down in August claiming he "achieved results" in stemming the deadly violence that long plagued the Sudanese region.
Diplomats and observers have slammed UNAMID as inefficient, knocking Adada for his conciliatory tone with the Sudanese authorities, which the West accuses of atrocities in Darfur.
Sudan`s Arab-dominated government and rebels in the largely Christian and animist south signed a power-sharing deal in 2005 to end Africa`s longest civil war, which claimed 1.5 million lives over 21 years.
But a separate conflict erupted in 2003 when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against Sudan`s rule in the western Darfur region.
The UN says up to 300,000 people have died from the combined effects of war, famine and disease and more than 2.7 million fled their homes in a campaign the United States describes as genocide.
UNAMID is the UN`s largest mission, with 26,000 troops and police officers expected when full deployment is complete. As of late October there were 19,000 deployed uniformed personnel.
It is presently seeking to locate and free two civilians -- a Zimbabwean woman and a Nigerian man -- working for UNAMID who were kidnapped in August and were still being held in captivity.