June 24, 2012 (KHARTOUM) — In a meeting held Sunday in El-Fasher capital of North Darfur, a tripartite mechanism agreed on a plan to reduce the number of uniformed personal of the largest peacekeeping mission in the world within 18 month.
There are now 17,364 troops, and 591 military observers and, 5,511 police deployed in Darfur besides civilians from different nationalities and local stuff.
Sudan accepted with difficulty the deployment of a UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur in 2008 and resisted its implementation. The tripartite mechanism was designed by the parties to discuss compromises over all the issue of concerns from all the sides.
Recently, Khartoum demand to reduce the uniformed personal of the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) topped the agenda of the mechanism. Sudan said civilians are no more exposed to violence from militias. It also said the mission become a source of logistics and weapons for the rebels who used to ambush its patrols.
Speaking after the one-day meeting of the tripartite mechanism in El fasher, Hervé Ladsous, UN Under-Secretary-General (USG) for Peacekeeping Operations, said the reduction of peacekeepers will be formalized by the UN Security Council in July.
He further added that it would be implemented "during the next 18 months to reflect the reality on the ground and to streamline the overlapping functions between military, police and mission support components."
Ramtane Lamamra, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, said the outcome of the meeting will be made public after its approval by the concerned instances in Addis Ababa, Khartoum and New York.
The Undersecretary of Sudanese foreign ministry, Rahmat-Allah Mohamed Osman stressed that the conclusions of the meeting are compatible with the latest developments in Darfur.
The Sudanese diplomat was alluding to the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) that Khartoum and the former rebel Liberation and Equality Movement signed in July 2011 after over two year of talks involving the rebel Justice and Equality Movement which declined to sign it.
The United States, at the level of the Security Council, was not very enthusiastic to this reduction because of fears of pressures on the White House as the President begun his campaign for a second term.
However, Washington failure to deliver the rebel groups to the negotiating table or to convince Juba to stop its support to the non-signatories weakened its position particularly after public statements by President Obama and other officials in this regard.
UNAMID, in statement posted on its website, said the meeting also discussed the restrictions of peacekeepers movement including the use of tactical helicopters which were supposed to allow rapid intervention of peacekeepers when civilians, its personal or aid workers are attacked.
Ladsous said Khartoum deterred the UN largest operation from " accessing to areas where there is an urgent need to verify reports on fighting […] and to provide assistance and protection to the civilian population."
But, according to the statement, Sudanese officials denied restriction on UNAMID’s movement, stressing Sudan "only provides security advisory and leaves it to the Mission to decide whether to proceed."
UNAMID chief Ibrahim Gambari retorted the army, police and the national security on the ground should be directed to enforce this policy, the mission said.
The meeting also discussed UNAMID role in the implementation of the DDPD and facilitation of the voluntary return of displaced civilians, technical support to Darfur Regional Authority and security for aid agencies.