July 31, 2012 (WASHINGTON) — Sudan expressed its "strong reservations" over a paragraph dealing with the LRA rebels included in the UN Security Council resolution 2063 renewing the mandate of Darfur peacekeepers.
- File photo of UNAMID soldiers inspecting abandoned villages in Shangil Tobaya in Darfur on 27 March 2011 after fighting between, government and rebels (photo by Albert Gonzalez Farran UNAMID)
The UN Security Council, by a vote of 14 in favour, with one abstention, approved the renewal of the African Union – United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). The resolution reduced its military personnel of the largest operation from 19555 to 16200 and adjusted the police force from 3772 to 2310 policemen. It also reviewed the formed police units from 19 to 17 units.
The resolution directs the hybrid force to support the ongoing efforts to implement the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) and urged the Sudanese government to accelerate the DDPD implementation "in order to deliver real benefits for the Darfuri people".
The Security Council, on the other hand, deplored the refusal of rebel groups to join the peace process adding they "are impeding implementation of the DDPD". It urged them to sign a permanent ceasefire "without further dealy or precondition” and to engage in talks under the framework of the Doha text.
The resolution also condemned the action of Sudanese rebels to topple the government and expressed concern over "reported links" Darfur rebels have established with groups outside the Darfur region, demanding that "any form of direct or indirect external support for such groups ceases."
In paragraph 17 of the resolution 2063, the 15-member body also encouraged the UNAMID to "cooperate and share information" on the "Lord’s Resistance Army" after referring to paragraph 19 of resolution 2057 about the UNMISS mandate in South Sudan.
UNMISS is tasked among others to participate in "regional coordination and information mechanisms to improve protection of civilians and support disarmament, demobilization and reintegration efforts in light of the attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in South Sudan."
Speaking to the media after the meeting, Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, Sudan’s UN Ambassador pledged that his country will keep cooperating with the UNAMID over its "original mandate". He further said he registered "very strong reservations" to paragraph 17 of the UNAMID resolution before the Council.
He pointed out that there was no proof of the LRA’s presence in Darfur, and the UN Secretary general, on his latest report about Darfur did not mention such an issue, he said.
Daffa-Allah went further to say that instead of including the LRA rebels the Council has to focus on Sudanese rebel groups and to ask the government in Juba to stop its support for Darfur holdout rebel groups who work to hamper peace implementation.
"This is a fact nobody would be able to deny the South Sudanese government is harbouring all the Darfurian rebel groups in the South and we find no mention at all, in this resolution, regarding UNMISS. Is that logical?" he wondered.
During the meeting, the issue of the LRA was raised by Gert Rosenthal, Guatemala’s Ambassador, who voted in favour of the resolution but registered "serious reservations". He told the meeting that the "objective information provided by the UN Secretariat" did not mention the presence of the Ugandan rebels in Darfur.
Azerbaijan’s Permanent Representative, Tofig Musayev, who abstained to endorse the resolution, said "some resolution’s conclusions did not correspond with the assessment of the current situation, nor did the text fully reflect the Secretary-General’s views in his recent report."
Ambassador Raza Bashir Tarar of Pakistan, despite his vote for the resolution, also expressed a series of concerns on the resolution stressing that it "downplays and trivializes the challenge posed by the everlasting network of alliance between Darfur-related rebel movements with those outside Darfur with the declared purpose of overthrowing the Government," he said.
Uganda and South Sudan, during the past year, accused Sudan of harbouring LRA elements. But Khartoum denied the accusation.
The Sudanese government accuses Kampala of backing and providing support to Darfur rebel groups.The two countries failed to reach agreement after different meetings over the issue.
Khartoum maintained it had no relations with the rebel group and cannot help Kampala in its effort to arrest their leader, Joseph Kony, who was supported in the past as he used to fight against the former rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), before South Sudan’s independence..
British Ambassador, Mark Lyall Grant, who drafted the resolution told reporters that the inclusion of the LRA in the resolution "does not change the mandate of the UNAMID in any way".
He stressed it only means to share information.
He further emphasised that "there is nothing in this resolution which suggests that we think the LRA are active in Darfur."
Néstor Osorio, Permanent Representative of Colombia who chaired the meeting admitted, however, that "this matter allows some subjectivity about the appreciation or about the way things are seen" by those who drafted the resolution.
"There are, for many of those who promoted this resolution, clear indications there was a merit to include the paragraph 17 of the LRA in the resolution," he said.