Home | News    Wednesday 22 November 2006

Blair warns Sudan of ’tougher measures’ over Darfur

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Nov 22, 2006 (LONDON) — British Prime Minister Tony Blair warned Wednesday that Sudan would face "tougher measures" if it failed to act on an agreement calling for a UN-African peacekeeping force for war-torn Darfur.

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Tony Blair

"The only solution is to make sure that the agreement ... is implemented," Blair told the House of Commons during his weekly question-and-answer session.

"If the government (of Sudan) does not seize this opportunity then we will have to look at tougher measures," Blair said.

UN chief Kofi Annan has said he expected a response from the Sudanese government by Wednesday at the latest on outstanding issues regarding last week’s deal for a hybrid United Nations and African Union force for Darfur.

He said Khartoum had wanted to consult on the size of the force, which the UN foresees at 17,000 troops and 3,000 police; the way the force commander should be appointed and the role of the special representative who would report to both the UN and the AU.

Blair said he would speak to Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir later Wednesday.

"It’s important we keep up the pressure on the Sudanese government... This is a very very serious situation. We have the prospect of a way forward, but we need to take it," Blair said.

Andrew Natsios, the US envoy to Sudan, warned Khartoum on Monday to meet a January 1 deadline for full acceptance of the UN plan or face tougher action to end atrocities in Darfur.

The war in Darfur erupted in February 2003 when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated regime in Khartoum, prompting a heavy-handed crackdown from government forces and proxy militia known as the Janjaweed.

The conflict and associated famine and disease have left 200,000 people dead and displaced 2.5 million more, according to UN figures. Some sources give much higher figures.

(AFP)

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