Home | News    Wednesday 21 June 2006

Sudan accuses Jewish groups of pushing for UN troops in Darfur

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June 21, 2006 (KHARTOUM) — Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has escalated his rejection of the U.N. deploying peacekeepers in Darfur, saying they would be neo-colonialists and accusing Jewish organizations of pushing for their deployment.

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Omar al-Beshir

His comments, made while a joint U.N. and African Union team is in Sudan to plan for such a deployment, is likely to increase tension with the U.N. Security Council and provoke an angry response from U.S. legislators.

A Security Council delegation toured Darfur early this month. The U.S. and Europeans have been pushing for a large U.N. force to take over peace keeping in Darfur from the African Union’s poorly equipped 7,000 troops who have been unable to halt the violence in the west Sudanese region.

"This shall never take place," al-Bashir told reporters at a press conference with South African President Thabo Mbeki Tuesday. "These are colonial forces and we will not accept colonial forces coming into the country."

"They want to colonize Africa, starting with the first sub-Saharan country to gain its independence. If they want to start colonization in Africa, let them chose a different place," he said.

However, Sudan already has 10,000 U.N. peacekeepers in its south, where they are helping to implement the January 2005 peace agreement that ended more than 20 years of civil war between the north and the south of the country.

When journalists pressed al-Bashir on his objection to U.N. troops in Darfur, he replied: "It is clear that there is a purpose behind the heavy propaganda and media campaigns" for international intervention in Darfur.

"If we return to the last demonstrations in the U.S., and the groups that organized the demonstrations, we find that they are all Jewish organizations," al-Bashir said.

The president was referring to the rallies held in New York and Philadelphia earlier this year which were addressed by figures such as actor George Clooney and former basketball star Manute Bol, a Sudanese.

The comments were al-Bashir’s strongest rejection of a U.N. peacekeeping role in Darfur. At one point he said he himself would lead the "resistance" to such a force.

Nearly 300,000 people have been killed and more than 2 million displaced in Darfur since members of ethnic African tribes rose in revolt against the Arab- led Khartoum government in early 2003. The government is accused of responding by unleashing Arab militias known as the janjaweed who have been accused of the worst atrocities. But it denies any involvement.

A leading government opponent, Hassan Turabi, has said the government opposes the U.N. in Darfur because the world body has vowed to prosecute all those involved in war crimes.

"They are afraid of the U.N.’s efficiency. The government fears that too many of its allies will end up in an international criminal court," said Turabi, who is believed to be influential with one of the Darfur rebel groups.

The U.N. team in Sudan is led by the world body’s top peacekeeping official, Undersecretary-General Jean-Marie Guehenno, who is scheduled to give a press conference at the end of his visit on Thursday.

Jan Pronk, the top U.N. envoy in Sudan, said in a statement Wednesday that Guehenno and the Security Council delegation had stressed that "the United Nations will not intervene in the country," nor will it deploy troops, without the consent of the Sudanese government.

(ST/AP)

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