Home | News    Sunday 13 February 2005

Sudan slams Annan call for intervention in Darfur

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KHARTOUM, Feb 13 (AFP) — Sudan hit out Sunday at a call by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for EU or NATO intervention in the war-torn Darfur region, saying the world body ought to back the existing African Union observer mission.

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Kofi Annan

"We believe that the African Union has the full mandate and capabilities to accomplish its mission satisfactorily and we expect that no other agency would tamper with this mission," junior foreign minister Naguib al-Khair Abdel Wahab told AFP.

"We commend the work done by the African Union which has been recognised by the UN as the major body responsible for supervising the peace efforts in Darfur, and we expect the UN secretary general to spare no effort to bolster the AU in carrying out its assigned mission," Abdel Wahab said.

Annan had called at a security conference in Munich Sunday for urgent Western intervention in Darfur to halt the savage repression of a two-year-old ethnic minority uprising by state-sponsored Arab militias.

"People are dying, every single day, while we fail to protect them. Additional measures are urgently required. Those organizations with real capacity — and NATO as well as the EU are well represented in this room — must give serious consideration to what, in practical terms, they can do to help end this tragedy," the UN chief said.

Annan saluted the work of the 1,850 African Union peacekeepers currently deployed in Darfur, but said other international bodies must act as quickly as possible in a region where tens of thousands have died and 1.6 million displaced.

"Remember this — our current collective shortcomings are measured in lives lost," he said.

The African Union force has come in for strong criticism from the Darfur rebels.

Sudan Liberation Army spokesman Mohammed Hamed Ali charged Saturday that ever since their deployment last year, the AU observers had "sat idly by while government planes mounted air raids and the Janjaweed militias carried out massacres."

A peacekeeping force should be made up of "UN troops because they have the capacity and necessary means to protect Darfur," he said.

Annan earlier this month proposed expanding the peacekeeping force to more than 10,000 troops and widening its mandate.

But Security Council discussions have been muddied by a dispute over jurisdiction in the serious abuses alleged against government security forces and allied militias in Darfur.

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