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UN advisers to be deployed this week in Darfur

Dec 26, 2006 (KHARTOUM) — The first group of UN military advisers will arrive in the troubled Sudanese region of Darfur this week to assist the African Union force currently in operation there.

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UN peacekeepers from Bangladesh work in Juba, Sudan (Reuters).

Forty-three military advisers will be deployed in the western region as part of a three-phase UN plan aimed at bolstering the struggling AU force there, AU spokesman Nourredine Mezni said Tuesday.

"The first group of this contingent composed of nine policemen is already in place, and this week 43 military advisers and 15 police advisers will follow," Mezni said.

It was agreed that UN military and police officers will wear their national uniforms with a blue UN beret. In addition, they will wear an AU armband, the UNMIS bulletin said.

The move was agreed during a meeting between the United Nations, Sudan and the AU, on the implementation of the plan. The next meeting is due to be held on January 10. The tripartite mechanism will continue to meet regularly every 15 days to follow up on the deployment of UNMIS personnel and equipment support to AMIS under the light and heavy support packages.

The parties had already agreed to send 105 UN military advisers, 33 policemen and 45 technicians as well as logistical material.

In August, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1706 which calls for the deployment of UN troops in Darfur in place of the AU mission, a move vehemently rejected by President Omar al-Beshir, who accused the West of seeking to prepare an invasion.

The compromise UN plan is supposed to lead to a "hybrid" AU-UN peacekeeping force, although differences of interpretation remain.

The United States had given Khartoum until January 1 to accept the UN package or face coercive action to end the conflict in Darfur, which has killed at least 200,000 people and displaced two million in four years.

(AFP/ST)