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Sudan refuses to grant Ugandan peacekeepers visas for Darfur mission: report


March 27, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government has refused to give Ugandan peacekeepers their visas to serve in the war-ravaged region of Darfur as part of UNAMID force, Kampala-based newspaper said in its Monday edition.

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FILE - UNAMID soldiers guard a high-level meeting with Chinese, European, United Nations and African Union officials in El-Fasher, the capital of North Darfur on July 5, 2010 (AFP)

’The Monitor’ said that Uganda has been seeking to rotate 108 police officers serving in Darfur but due to the visa issue asked for the United Nations’s permission to extend the tenure of the existing peacekeepers.

The Ugandan Ministry of Internal Affairs Permanent Secretary, Stephen Kagoda, reportedly said in his letter that the extension was necessary to avoid a "replacement vacuum" since the current Ugandan contingent’s tour of duty was due to expire on March 25.

According to the report, in a February 21 diplomatic note, Sudan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry informed UNAMID that requests for visas for new police peacekeepers "are NOT approved", because "efforts should be directed towards increasing Arabic-speaking police as agreed".

The United Nations Police Adviser in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations Ann-Marie Orler, wrote back to UNAMID Police Commissioner James Oppong-Boanuh on March 15, authorizing that services of the Ugandan group be extended by four months up to July 25, 2011.

However, other Ugandan officials gave conflicting statements saying that the contingent serving in Darfur will be replaced as planned and that securing the visas is the responsibility of the United Nations.

If the report is true it would reflect the strained relations between the two countries since last year particularly as Kampala publicly supported South Sudan independence which materialized in the referendum that took place last January. It will become official in July.

Uganda is now also hosting two Darfur rebel leaders including Abdel-Wahid Al-Nur of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and Minni Minnawi who leads a faction of the same movement.


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