EAC to send peacekeeping troops to Darfur
The East African Community (EAC) Heads of States Summit resolved here Saturday to deploy troops to the troubled western Sudan region of Darfur to monitor a peace agreement between the government and rebel forces and not for interventionist purposes.
Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa said the three countries were awaiting the outcome of the Africa Union-led Darfur peace talks in Abuja, Nigeria under the chairmanship of the Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo to proceed with their plan.
"If there is any peace to be monitored, we shall be ready. There must be a process whose implementation we will follow. We are waiting for the outcome of the Abuja peace talks," Mkapa told journalists here Saturday.
The EAC, grouping Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, is holding a three- day Heads of States Summit here to speed up the implementation of the EAC Common External Tariffs (CET).
Member states signed the protocol but hitches have delayed ratification by member states before it becomes operational.
President Mkapa, who was answering questions from journalists on whether his country was ready to send troops to the troubled Darfur region, where some 30,000 people have died and 1.2 million internally displaced after nearly 19 months of fighting, also stressed that the Sudanese government must accept to welcome the foreign troops.
The AU is poised to deployed 300 troops to Darfur drawn from Nigeria and Rwanda to protect some 80 Observers whose assignment is to oversee the non-violation of a peace deal reached in Chad.
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and his Ugandan compatriot Yoweri Museveni also endorsed Mkapa's sentiments, saying they will only play by the rules.
Museveni, who has been facing 18 years of rebel insurgency in the north of Uganda, publicly admitted supporting the rebel Sudanese Peoples' Liberation Army (SPLA).
"As much as we sympathise with the black people in southern Sudan, we know that the Khartoum government made a mistake by supporting the (Ugandan rebel) Lord's Resistance Army (LRA)," Museveni said, adding, "It was a regrettable mistake they made."