Politics Delay U.S. Airlift Of Peacekeepers to Sudan
Well before the sun rose over the city's winding hills Monday, Col. Charles Karamba was wide awake, ready to give his 120 Rwandan army troops an energetic send-off to western Sudan.
They were to be the first troops airlifted to Darfur on U.S. military planes as part of a two-week mission to move African Union peacekeepers quickly into the war-torn region, where 1.5 million people have been driven from their homes and where violence, hunger and disease have killed tens of thousands.
Two C-130 transport planes, sent by the U.S. Air Force from Ramstein Air Base in Germany, stood ready on the rain-soaked tarmac outside the Rwandan capital. Karamba sat by his phone, waiting for the orders to board.
Instead, just after 10 a.m., word came that the Rwandans would not be leaving quite yet. According to diplomats, that was because Nigeria, whose president heads the African Union, had demanded to go first. Although the airlifts from Kigali were planned last week, diplomats said, Nigerian officials wanted their troops to arrive first as a matter of prestige. Full Story