Home | News    Sunday 2 January 2005

South Africa may send peace observers to Darfur, Mbeki says

KHARTOUM, Sudan, Jan 2, 2005 (AP) — South African President Thabo Mbeki said Sunday his country is considering sending peace observers to Darfur to boost the African Union peace effort in Sudan’s war-torn region.

South African president Thabo Mbeki adresses the national assembly in Khartoum, Sudan Saturday, Jan 1, 2005. Mbeki said , South Africa will be a strategic partner with Sudan. (AP).

Speaking after a brief tour to the devastated region, Mbeki said the African Union has asked South Africa to take part in its small contingent of peace observers.

He did not say how many monitors South Africa will send or give more details.

"The conflict should be resolved through the African Union," Mbeki told a press conference with Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir.

The Darfur conflict, which the United Nations describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, began in February 2003 when the Sudan Liberation Army and allied Justice and Equality Movement took up arms against what they saw as years of state neglect and discrimination against Sudanese of African origin.

The government responded with a counterinsurgency campaign in which the Janjaweed, an Arab militia, allegedly committed wide-scale abuses against the African population. Aid groups report the violence is impeding their ability to deliver food and other assistance to the 1.8 million people displaced by the 22-month conflict.

The African Union has about 800 troops and 100 monitors in Darfur.