Tensions Rise in Sudan As Rebels And Government Begin to Lose Control, UN Says
With both Sudan's government and its rebels losing control of their fighting forces in troubled Darfur, warlords may take over unless an international peacekeeping force is fully deployed, negotiations are speeded up and political leaders are held accountable for their actions, the United Nations envoy for Sudan said today.
"The government does not control its own forces fully," Special Representative Jan Pronk told the Security Council in a briefing on Secretary-General Kofi Annan's monthly report on the situation in the war-torn region. "It co-opted paramilitary forces and now it cannot count on their obedience The border lines between the military, the paramilitary and the police are being blurred."
Within the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) "there is a leadership crisis," Mr. Pronk said. "There are splits. Some commanders provoke their adversaries by stealing, hijacking and killing, some seem to have begun acting for their own private gain."
The rebels now control so much of the territory that they must take responsibility for the people there and become political leaders, he said, "or they may turn to preying on the civilians in areas they control by force - and we may soon find Darfur is ruled by warlords."
Tensions have been rising since August and, as of November, fighting and provocation have become more widespread, threatening food production and putting the whole population at risk of becoming dependent on humanitarian aid, Mr. Pronk said.
"Governmental authorities are not able to exert a moderating influence, or they respond with untimely and even counter-productive measures," he said.
At a news conference after his briefing, Mr. Pronk said the deployment of an adequate number of African Union (AU) troops was being delayed by bureaucracy, lack of funding and differing perceptions of the situation on the ground.
The planned Security Council meeting later this month in Nairobi, Kenya, could convince the parties that they are expected to negotiate in good faith and adopt a Declaration of Principles, a timeframe and detailed agenda for further political issues, he said.
The Secretary-General's report pointed out that despite slow political progress, "violence in Darfur is on the rise. New movements are threatening the peace in Kordofan, in the East and in Khartoum. There is reluctance at the negotiating table in Abuja (Nigeria), distrust, internal division, lack of capacity to negotiate and no sense of urgency."
In Darfur, the Sudanese Government's failure to end impunity has discouraged both disarmament of fighters and repatriation from refugee and internally displaced persons' (IDP) camps, as "banditry goes from strength to strength," it says.
The Government "must build on the very limited action it has taken so far and present a comprehensive and concrete programme for holding accountable those responsible for widespread and systematic violations over the past year or more," the report says.
After the briefing, Ambassador John C. Danforth of the United States, which holds the Council's rotating presidency for November, read a press statement in which the 15 members voiced their deep concern about the findings in Mr. Annan's report and the deterioration in the security and humanitarian situation confirmed in Mr. Pronk's briefing.
They condemned attacks on civilians, sexual violence, hostage-taking and other violations in Darfur "by all parties, including the Government of the Sudan, rebel groups and the Janjaweed militias," Ambassador Danforth said.
Concerned about the government's forced relocation of IDPs in Otash, Old Sharief and New Sharief, contrary to Council resolutions approved earlier this year, the Council called on the Sudanese Government once more to cease all forcible relocations, return those removed and allow relief workers immediate access to all internally displaced people's camps.