Home | News    Saturday 27 January 2007

Libya suspends Darfur funds to press withdrawal of Sudan’s AU candidacy

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By Wasil Ali

Jan 26, 2007 (CAIRO) — Libya has suspended the transfer of 50 million US dollar to the African peacekeeping force in Darfur in a bid to press Sudan to withdraw its candidacy for the African Union presidency in the upcoming summit.

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Muammar Gaddafi

The Egyptian government-owned Al-Ahram newspaper on Friday 26 January reported that Libya has suspended the transfer of 50 million US dollars to finance the African Union peacekeeping forces operating in the troubled Darfur region. Quoting an African diplomatic source, Al-Ahram said that Libya blamed the Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, for his negative attitude towards it, and to some of its neighbors recently. The diplomat declined to elaborate.

The Libyan leadership is very alarmed by the Sudanese support to the Chadian rebel leader Mahamat Nouri who had coordinated is the eighties the activities of the US supported Libyan opposition from Chad. The former US president Ronald Reagan had a very aggressive politic towards Libya. At that time Washington supported — with the cooperation of the former Chadian president Hussein Habri — openly the Libyan opposition from northern Chad.

Earlier this week the Sudanese president Omar al Bashir unexpectedly skipped on a 5 way summit that was held in Sirte, Libya. It was not clear why al-Bashir could not attend the mini-summit and no explanation was provided by Khartoum for his absence.

Reliable sources told Sudan Tribune that Libyan leader, Muammar Gadhafi, had tried to convince Sudanese president to withdraw his candidature to the African Union presidency in the upcoming summit but al-Bashir refused the Libyan demand.

Libya has generally been a supporter of the Sudanese government’s stance on the Darfur crisis and has been trying to foster a peace agreement between Khartoum and the Darfur rebel groups. Also, Libyan Gadafi sponsored reconciliation accord between Sudan and Chad.

It is likely that Sudanese candidacy would face a mounting opposition from Central and Western African blocks. Sources said some African leaders approached the Libyan leader asking him to persuade al-Bashir to withdraw his candidature.

One senior source in the AU who declined to be named told Reuters: "The same conditions that applied to the decision last year still apply this year. But it will be difficult to find a solution to this."

Officials from Chad have hinted that they might walk out of Monday’s summit in the event of Bashir being selected, while western diplomats have been lobbying to prevent it from happening, the Financial Times said.

European and American diplomats are worried that if Bashir were to win the post, it would be a disaster for international attempts to address the crisis in Darfur and would complicate funding for other AU peacekeeping efforts in Somalia and beyond.

(ST)

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