Home | News    Monday 26 June 2006

Sudan summons UN envoy to explain logistical help to rebel leader

June 25, 2006 (KHARTOUM) — Sudan summoned Sunday the UN envoy to explain the alleged helicopter ride given to the Darfur rebel leader; Khartoum accused the world body of providing cover for a rebel leader who rejects a recent peace deal.

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Jan Pronk

Foreign ministry spokesman Jamal Mohamed Ibrahim said that UN envoy Jan Pronk had been summoned to give an explanation Monday of the alleged helicopter ride given to the Darfur rebel leader.

The ministry said it had suspended all UN operations in Darfur until further notice, except those of the World Food Programme and the UN children’s fund UNICEF.

The foreign ministry said Suleiman Jamous, a dissident member from the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) - Minawi, was taken Saturday from the main Darfur town of Al-Fasher to South Kordofan state on a UN helicopter flight.

On 20 May, Jamous, who was the former SLM-Minawi humanitarian coordinator, had been arrested and tortured by his group for opposition to the Darfur Peace Agreement.

He was released to the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) from Muzbat on 22 June 2006. He was taken to Al Fasher, the capital of North Darfur State, where he nremained under UN protection. UN human rights monitors were allowed to visit him on 14 June 2006.

According to a humanitarian source, Jamous was appreciated by the UN and ONGs aid workers in Darfur for his good collaboration and competence.

"It was clear that the act was planned to take place behind the back of the Sudanese authorities," a statement issued late Saturday said.

Ibrahim said the rebel leader had his face covered during the transfer, in what he said was a clear indication that the UN officials travelling on the same flight were attempting to hide the man from the authorities.

The foreign ministry said it considered the incident "a flagrant violation of the country’s sovereignty and a violation of the agreement under which the UN operates in Sudan."

UN spokesperson Radhia Achouri said she could not confirm that the rebel leader had indeed travelled on a UN flight and refused to comment on Khartoum’s reaction.

The holdout SLM led by Abdelwahid al-Nur condemned the UN suspension, saying Khartoum was determined to continue killing the people Darfur.

"By suspending the UN mission in Darfur, the government of Sudan is preparing to finalize the last chapter of its genocidal policy in the absence of the direct supervision of the international community," the faction’s spokesperson Jaffer Monro charged in a press statement.

He called on the world body to expedite the deployment of UN peacekeepers.

The United Nations wants to replace the cash-strapped 7,000-strong African Union contingent which has attempted in vain to maintain peace in Darfur over the past two years.

The plan, supported by the United States, has met fierce opposition from Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir who has warned against any unilateral deployment.

The world body stresses that it never intended to send troops without Khartoum’s consent but has warned that improved security in Darfur is vital for the success of the May 5 peace deal.

After completing a mission aimed at mustering support from the authorities for a UN deployment, the UN’s undersecretary general for peacekeeping operations Jean-Marie Guehenno reported no breakthrough.

"The response we had was not the one that we would have liked to hear," he said in a briefing during which he enumerated the ideas he submitted to the government during his consultations.

Beshir has repeatedly warned he will turn Darfur into "a graveyard" for Western troops, accusing the West of seeking to "recolonise Sudan".