Home | News    Tuesday 12 September 2006

Sudan’s Dafur military action illegal - Annan

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Sept 11, 2006 (UNITED NATIONS) — U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Monday warned Sudan its military bombardment and troop deployment in the Darfur region was illegal and predicted further disasters unless U.N. troops were deployed.

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Kofi Annan

But Sudan’s envoy, in a U.N. Security Council debate, defended Khartoum’s action as part of a peace deal. And Khartoum’s allies from the Arab League and the Islamic Conference refrained from endorsing a U.N. force.

Annan, in a blunt speech, evoked the 1994 genocide in Rwanda by asking, "Can the international community, having not done enough for the people of Rwanda in their time of need, just watch as this tragedy deepens?

"This is no time for the middle ground of half-measures or further debate," he told the council.

Annan said thousands of Sudanese troops had been deployed in Darfur, in "clear violation" of a peace agreement signed by the government and one rebel group in May.

"Even worse, the area has been subjected to renewed aerial bombing," he said, "I strongly condemn this escalation. The government should stop its offensive immediately."

The Security Council in August authorized up to 22,500 troops and police for Darfur, providing the Sudan government agreed, which it has not. It also approved beefing up the struggling African Union force during a transition period.

The government’s rejection, Annan said, could lead to "yet more death and suffering, perhaps on a catastrophic scale."

Neither those who decide such policies, nor those who carry them out should imagine they will not be held accountable, he warned for the second time in a week.

Sudan, which was invited to send a high-level representative, was represented by a U.N. envoy, Yasir Abdelsalam, who said Khartoum was adhering to the May peace agreement, which called for an integration of rebel and government troops.

6,000 TROOPS TO DARFUR

Abdelsalam said 6,000 troops would be deployed by Sept. 30 and another 10,000 by Dec. 31. He condemned the council’s Aug. 28 resolution 1706 "as a hasty measure" that amounted to a "one-way dialogue."

But U.S. envoy William Brencick said Annan’s comments should "resonate all the way from this chamber to the presidential palace in Khartoum."

Responding to Abdelsalam, Brencick said the "one point he left out was a stated commitment by the (government) to address the humanitarian situation in Darfur by consenting to the deployment of U.N. forces."

"How many people need to describe the horror of the situation in Darfur or how much worse does this situation have to get" before Sudan got the message, he asked.

Brencick said he was circulating a presidential statement to allow the council to speak with one voice and tell Sudan to "work with us, because the situation in Darfur cannot stand."

Russia and China, which abstained on the resolution, said they favored a U.N. force but stressed the need for Khartoum’s consent.

The Darfur conflict erupted in February 2003 when non-Arab rebels took up arms against the government. In response, the government mobilized Arab militias known as Janjaweed, who have conducted a campaign of murder, rape and looting.

In the past few months, various rebel groups and bandits have committed similar atrocities. Fighting, disease and hunger have killed some 200,000 people and driven some 2.5 million into squalid camps.

In an apparent reference to Sudan’s allies, Annan said his voice was not enough and that leaders in Africa and beyond had to exert their influence. The council, he added, had to issue "a strong and uniform message."

(Reuters)

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