Home | News    Sunday 18 November 2007

Bashir says Sudan will not accept troops from four countries in Darfur

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November 17, 2007 (MEDANI, Sudan) — The Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir today reiterated his rejection of Western troops and others in Darfur peacekeeping force.

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Sudanese soldiers march during a ceremony for the 18th anniversary of the national Popular Defence Forces in Medani Nov 17, 2007 (AFP)

"The boots of those who blasphemed the prophet Muhammad would never trample on Sudanese land" Al-Bashir told the crowd at the Wad-Medani Stadium (Al-Jazeera State), some 200 miles south of Khartoum, celebrating the 18th anniversary of the Popular Defence Forces (PDF).

UN Security Council resolution 1769 establishing UN-AU hybrid force provided for a transition from the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) to the force known as UNAMID by December 31st.

However Ban Ki-Moon said in his latest report that several obstacles stand in the way of a speedy deployment including the land needed for the construction of UNAMID headquarters in Darfur. The Sudanese government has yet to assign the land for the hybrid force.

The other issue pending is Sudan’s approval on a list of troop donor countries for the Darfur force. At Sudan’s request the UN resolution called for a force with a “predominantly African character” but stressed the need for “a force which could effectively implement the mandate set out in resolution 1769”.

The Sudanese president criticized the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the African Union Chairperson Alpha Konare for trying to force troops from certain countries on them.

“For Ban Ki-Moon, Konare and others to come forward and tell us that they will bring forces from Thailand, Nepal, Sweden and Norway, we tell them that they have to consult with us on them first. We will not accept any forces without consent” he added.

Last weekend Al-Bashir told Al-Jazeera Arabic channel in Qatar that his government agreed to a brigade of engineers from China and Pakistan only.

He added that the UN is trying to replace them with units from Norway and Sweden where newspapers last year published cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet that sparked global controversy.

“We refused to receive [engineers] from Norway and Sweden, and we will not accept this. We are convinced that the elements whom they insist to send to us from Sweden and Norway are intelligence elements; namely, MOSSAD [Israeli Intelligence] and CIA” Al-Bashir added.

However Jan Pronk, the former UN special representative to Sudan speaking to Sudan Tribune last week dismissed claims by Al-Bashir saying that Swedish and Norwegian troops have historically “proven themselves to be very professional and impartial”.

The United States said last Thursday that it was "deeply troubled" by the government of Sudan’s "foot-dragging and obstruction" on a joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force.

"Where we’re deeply troubled and deeply disturbed, the concern can be laid primarily at the feet of the government of Sudan," said US National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

"While they’re doing, have done, some useful things, like flight clearances, there’s been a history of foot-dragging and obstruction," he said

International experts estimate 200,000 people have died in the conflict, which Washington calls genocide, a term European governments are reluctant to use. The Sudan government says 9,000 people have been killed.

(ST)

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