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Rwandan officer leaves for Darfur as deputy commander of AU forces


KIGALI, Dec 28, 2004 (Xinhua) — Rwandan Brigadier Gen. Jean Bosco Kazura left here Tuesday to the troubled western region of Sudan to act as the deputy commander of African Union (AU) protection force in Darfur, a presidential statement said.

A Rwandan soldier belonging to the African Union Force patrols a section of the Abu Shouk displaced camp in the outskirts of El-Fasher, Sudan. (AFP).

The Commission of the African Union (AU) has requested the Rwandan government to designate a deputy as the commander to its mission in Darfur, according to the statement, and Kazura was finally appointed by the commission on Nov. 15.

Kazura will deputize Nigerian General, Festus Okonkwo who is the overall commander of the AU forces.

He left with ten more Rwanda Defense Forces officers who are going to be military monitors in Darfur. Rwanda has so far sent in 392 officers and men as part of an AU protection force in Darfur.

The force’s mandate is to protect AU ceasefire monitors. However, Rwandan President, Paul Kagame has called for a stronger mandate to include the protection of civilians.

The AU has deployed about 800 troops and 100 military observers of an expected 4,000-strong force to help monitor the largely ignored ceasefire.

Darfur has been embroiled in conflict since February 2003 when the rebel groups took up arms against Khartoum, demanding autonomy. The conflict has so far caused thousands of deaths and sent over a million fleeing to neighboring Chad or internally displaced.

The situation in the troubled region remains tense with both government forces and rebels reportedly preparing new offensive despite peace efforts.

Talks between Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Nigerian capital Abuja have been extended till January next year.

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