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UNAMID confirms receipt of verbal request to leave Sudan’s Darfur

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November 22, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) has said it received a verbal request from the Sudanese government to put in place a gradual exit strategy from Darfur.

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Members of the South African battalion of the UNAMID on March 9, 2008 (photo UN)

UNAMID official spokesperson, Ashraf Eissa, confirmed in statements to Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) on Saturday the mission had “received a note verbal from the government of Sudan referring to the need for an exit strategy”.

Eissa added that consideration of an exit strategy is already contained in UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution 2173.

The resolution, passed in August, extended the mission’s mandate for 10 more months and suggested it consider forming advance plans for its eventual departure from Darfur.

Sudan’s foreign ministry told western diplomats and international organisations in Khartoum on Friday that it has informed UNAMID two weeks ago to begin an exit strategy from the restive region.

The move comes in the wake of a crisis between the Sudanese government and UNAMID on investigating mass rape claims in a village in North Darfur state.

Social media has extensively circulated testimonies of victims from Tabit, a village 45km south-west of North Darfur capital El-Fasher, claiming that 200 women, including minors, were raped by soldiers from the Sudanese army (SAF).

HARSH CRITICISM

Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti has called on the United Nations to commit to helping Sudan or leave the country, adding the government is capable of managing its affairs in order to achieve security and stability in the Darfur region.

In a statement to the Sudanese Radio Saturday, Karti said “we addressed an ultimatum to the United Nations, either to commit to what they come for in Darfur: to help Sudan to establish security, and progress in the peace process or they have to leave us. We are able to protect our country”.

The Sudanese minister also drew heavy criticism for UNAMID, accusing it of failing to honour its mandate, adding they do not serve the peace process as required of them.

“These forces cannot move from a place to another without the protection of the Sudanese army. So, how we can call them forces,” he said.

The minister regretted the conduct of the United Nations and the Security Council, and the interest they show for “fabricated news”.

Sudanese top diplomat accused the rebel groups of committing crimes such as killing, destruction, and looting of civilians in Darfur, adding that the United Nations and UNAMID did not move to condemn such actions.

He stressed that Sudan would not allow to target the peace process in Darfur, and will address any attempt to abort it , stressing “it achieved great successes on the ground”.

“UNAMID turned to the monitoring of fabricated news, and wants to distort the reputation of Sudan, because it seeks to find her an excuse and justification for continuing to stay in Darfur,” Karti said.

HOSTILE MEDIA

Meanwhile, the governor of West Darfur state, Haider Galu Kuma, called on the Sudanese government to meet with the mission and clarify its mandate, accusing some international actors of promoting mass rape claims to serve special agendas.

Galu Kuma who is one of the former rebel leaders of the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) demanded in a press statement to the Ashorooq TV these international actors to help the government to achieve stability in Darfur, saying these claims have coincided with the implementation of services projects stipulated in the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD).

The governor dismissed reports of what he called the “hostile media” on mass rape in Tabit as unfounded, expressing support for all steps taken by the foreign ministry in this regard.

He said the government has responsibility over everything that is happening within Sudan’s territory, calling upon the UN to reconsider the mandate of UNAMID and its presence in the country.

On 9 November, a UNAMID verification team investigated the rape allegations in Tabit and said it found no evidence proving the rape claims.

However, recent media reports quoted UN officials as saying that the mission said in a secret report to the UN headquarters that witnesses were intimidated by the heavy presence of the Sudanese army during the investigation.

The Sudanese army vehemently denied these rape accusations, describing reports about the incident as “baseless and without justification”.

Sudan has refused to allow the mission access to Tabit to conduct another investigation despite repeated calls from the UN chief and the UNSC.

(ST)

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