Home | News    Thursday 29 June 2006

Sudan’s Bashir rules out UN force in Darfur

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June 29, 2006 (KHARTOUM) — Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir ruled out deploying U.N. troops in Darfur on Thursday, darkening the prospects of gaining consent for such a move at this weekend’s African Union (AU) summit in Gambia.

Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir (C), Wall Meyange (L), the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, and Al Motaffi (R), governor of Khartoum, wave to the crowd during a celebration of the National Congress Party’s 17th anniversary at Green Square in the capital Khartoum, June 29, 2006. (Reuters)

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is due to meet Bashir at the summit to try to overcome his rejection of U.N. troops, which Annan has described at "incomprehensible".

In an open-air speech attended by thousands in Khartoum, Bashir said a U.N. force was out of the question.

"We will not allow international troops under the U.N. to deploy in Darfur," Bashir said in an address marking the anniversary of the bloodless coup that brought him to power in 1989.

"Life in Darfur will return to its normal state without the presence of the international community or the participation of international troops in Darfur," he added.

In previous remarks, Bashir has said a U.N. force would attract jihadi militants and cause an Iraq-style quagmire.

The United States and United Nations have been pressing for a U.N. force in Darfur, arguing that the current 7,000-strong African Union force does not have resources to end the conflict.

The under-funded and under-equipped African forces are trying to protect more than 2 million refugees in sprawling western Sudan and monitor a faltering ceasefire between rebels, government forces and their Janjaweed militia allies.

Sudan has repeatedly rejected a U.N. force. But South African President Thabo Mbeki said last week following a visit to Khartoum that Sudan had not completely closed the door on U.N. troops.

Mbeki said that Sudan’s complaint was that Khartoum had not been properly consulted and was suspicious about the motives for sending a U.N. force. He said Sudan needed to be convinced of the need for a deployment.

Analysts say Khartoum has objected because it fears U.N. soldiers would arrest officials or militia leaders likely to be indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

Tens of thousands have died in Darfur since violence flared in 2003 when rebels took up arms accusing Khartoum of neglect of the ethnically complex region, with the Janjaweed accused of a campaign of rape and razing villages.

(Reuters)

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