Home | News    Saturday 26 August 2006

Sudanese protesters mob US envoy’s car

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Aug 26, 2006 (KHARTOUM) — Angry demonstrators mobbed the car of US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer after she arrived in Sudan, and demanded that she return home.

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Sudanese women protest against a visit by US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer outside Khartoum airport.

Frazer was officially greeted by senior officials from the ministries of foreign affairs and international cooperation.

But dozens of protesters, chanting slogans and raising banners reading "Go Back Home", "You Want War" and "We Want Peace" showed up at the airport, covered her car with banners and blocked her way before police intervened.

Frazer had flown to Khartoum with a message from President George W. Bush for his Sudanese counterpart, Omar al-Beshir, reportedly to urge him to accept deployment of UN forces in west Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region.

Before leaving Washington, Frazer had warned of a massive military buildup in Darfur, where fighting and resulting famine have left 300,000 people dead and 2.5 million homeless.

"We are very, very, very concerned about this — the buildup of military forces," Frazer had said.

She said she would press Beshir to accept a UN force to stop chronic bloodshed in Darfur despite the signing of a peace accord in May.

Beshir has told UN Secretary General Kofi Annan that Khartoum would deploy 10,500 Sudanese troops to Darfur to provide security.

But Frazer said the Sudanese forces "aren’t considered neutral and so we don’t feel that the people of Darfur will get any comfort" from such a move.

Before leaving the US she told reporters: "The message I am taking to President Beshir is to amplify what the president (Bush) has said many times — the United States interest is in ending the suffering of the people of Darfur."

Frazer accused Beshir, who is fiercely opposed to the presence of UN troops on Sudanese territory, of setting the scene for a military offensive in Darfur.

She warned of heavy civilian casualties in the event of a confrontation between Sudanese armed forces and rebel groups, including those which signed the May peace accord.

"It is not just the government of Sudan that is preparing for an offensive. We also heard reports that the non-signatories to the Darfur peace agreement, the National Resistance Movement and others are also preparing and rearming themselves.

"We think the security environment is deteriorating and deteriorating very quickly, and we are extremely concerned about this," Frazer said.

She called for an "internationally legitimate" UN force to help implement the peace agreement aimed at ending more than three years of conflict in Darfur. Washington has denounced the violence as genocide.

The peace accord was reached in the Nigerian capital of Abuja following high-level intervention by both London and Washington.

A minority faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and the separate Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) have both refused to sign the peace deal.

US State Department spokesman Gonzo Gallegos said in a statement that the United States was "working intensively" with other UN Security Council members on a US-British draft resolution to deploy a credible UN force in Darfur.

The African Union has deployed 7,000 peacekeeping troops, but because of inadequate funding it has decided to hand the mission over to an international force.

The African Union force’s mandate ends on September 30.

(ST/AFP)

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