Home | News    Monday 23 August 2004

Konare affirms AU force’s neutrality in Darfur

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ABUJA, Nigeria, Aug 23, 2004 (PANA) — The Chairperson of the African
Union (AU) Commission, Alpha Oumar Konare, affirmed Monday
that the AU force deployed to Sudan’s troubled western
region of Darfur would be a neutral umpire in the crisis.

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Alpha Oumar Konare

"The force is neither for hire nor will it play second
fiddle role or serve as anybody’s alibi," Konare said
at the opening of the Sudan peace talks in the Nigerian
capital Abuja.

The former Malian President also assured that the African
troops, sent to protect the AU ceasefire monitors, would
carry out their assignment "dutifully with equity, fairness
and justice in mind for the overall good of the people of
Sudan and the entire continent."

He explained that the onus of providing security for the
people of Sudan still rested with the Khartoum government.

"The (AU) Mission is there to ensure that things did not
get worse than they are already," Konare stressed.

The AU is deploying an initial 300 troops from Rwanda,
Nigeria and Tanzania.

The AU chief urged the warring parties in Darfur to
realise settlement could only come through negotiation
and dialogue.

"The situation needs a political solution and not a
military solution," he said, maintaining that the
position of AU "remains a negotiated solution."

Africa, Konare stressed, has the capacity to resolve
the Darfur crisis.

"All we need do is to have confidence in ourselves and
build on it," he said, adding that the Abuja meeting
would only be a success "by listening to all sides,
government, rebels and civil society."

"We must begin serious discussions, I repeat, serious
discussions, because peace in Sudan is important to
control the humanitarian crisis taking place in
Darfur.

"Peace is a process that we need to build and nurture with
patience. Rebel movements and leaders also have a stake in
this process," Konare added.

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