LAGOS, Aug 12 (AFP) — Nigeria warned Sudan on Thursday that if it does not allow African Union peacekeepers and diplomats to resolve the Darfur crisis it will end up facing less friendly pressure from outside the continent.
- Olusegun Obasanjo
"What has to be made clear is that if Sudan will not yield to gentle and African pressure it will have to succumb to extra-African pressure that might not be so gentle," said Remi Oyo, spokeswoman for President Olusegun Obasanjo.
"However, Nigeria remains committed to it’s decision to send troops alongside other African countries in order to keep the peace in Sudan," she told AFP, in a telephone interview.
The United Nations has called on Sudan to disarm a government-backed militia which UN agencies say is terrorising and murdering civilians in the western Darfur region, and warned Khartoum that it could face economic sanctions.
Obasanjo is current chairman of the African Union, which has taken the lead in trying to find a resolution to the fighting in Sudan’s western region of Darfur and has plans to send in 2,000 peacekeeping troops.
"By the constitutive act of the African Union, African troops situated in an African country cannot be regarded as foreign," Oyo said.
"Africa has said times without number that it will work to ensure that there is no repeat of Rwanda in an African country," she said, referring to the 1994 genocide in the central African country.
The Union stepped in to try to mediate an end to the conflict between government forces and Darfur’s rebel army amid a growing humanitarian crisis.
Obasanjo has invited both parties of the conflict to talks in Abuja on August 23.
Meanwhile, the first members the African peacekeeping force, made up of Nigerian and Rwandan troops, are expected to arrive in Darfur at the weekend.
Some Sudanese officials are, however, opposed to the presence of foreign peacekeepers, and the Arab League has urged the international community to be cautious and not to rush to judgement on the crisis.