Darfur: AU to get stronger mandate - AU asks NATO to assist
Several news reports say the AU has asked to start talks with NATO for logistical support in its mission in Darfur. NATO publishes an Update 26 April. Excerpt from Aljazeera:
The request was made in a letter sent to NATO's Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer by AU Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare, NATO spokesman James Appathurai said Wednesday.The Scotsman reports NATO is to hold talks over Darfur peacekeeping.
de Hoop Scheffer informed the permanent representatives of NATO's members of the request who then "agreed that exploratory talks should begin with the AU", Appathurai said.
The request comes ahead of a scheduled meeting on Thursday of senior AU diplomats in Addis Ababa to mull a significant expansion of the pan-African body's operation in Sudan.
"The council is going to determine the scale of this reinforcement," he said. "There is talk of more than doubling the mission."
Photo courtesy Aljazeera.
Excerpt from Reuters report re expanded mandate for AU troops in Darfur:
"The AU mission there will no longer turn its eyes in the event that the civilian population comes under threat," Sam Ibok, the special representative for AU-sponsored Darfur peace talks, said in an interview late on Tuesday.
"That is why we are having a more robust deployment."
"It means that they will be more proactive in their engagement of these parties (armed groups), not reactive, they will be proactive," he said.
The AU would increase patrols and focus on areas of potential conflict and where civilians have suffered.
AU monitors have come under fire on many occasions in Darfur, but previously they have withdrawn rather than fighting back. Ibok said their new mandate would give them more power.
"If they are attacked they will respond, there will be a robust response," he said.
"The way we envisage this force and once it is in place ... it will be suicidal for anyone to try (to attack AU soldiers)."
He added the new force should be deployed by September and the mandate would allow it to be boosted if necessary by the end of the year.
ANARCHY IN DARFUR
Ibok said the situation in Darfur was tending towards anarchy, making access by aid agencies and political talks more difficult.
But he said the sheer size and presence of the new force would act as a deterrent to any armed Darfur factions planning attacks.
Ibok said talks, which collapsed in December, were likely to restart in the third week of May, but much depended on rebel movements resolving leadership crises.
The government had also not yet responded to proposals made in February, he said, but Sudan's humanitarian affairs minister said on Tuesday the government was ready to go to talks next month.
Ibok said rebel preconditions to talks had been met. The government had fully withdrawn from areas occupied during a December offensive, and aerial bombardments had also ceased.
The AU mediator said rebel leaders should be present at the talks and he wanted Sudan's First Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha to take an active role at decision-making times.
Taha was given the task of dealing with Darfur in January, after he secured a long-awaited peace deal to end more than two decades of civil war in a separate conflict in Sudan's south.
He was involved directly in talks with the southern rebel leader at a critical time, which speeded up the process.
Ibok said he would like to see the same method applied in Darfur talks.
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AU mediation team conducts consultations in Khartoum with Vice-President Taha
Note this copy of an African Union (Addis Ababa) Press Release dated April 26, 2005:
The AU Mediation Team on Darfur, led by Ambassador Sam Ibok and comprising of Mr. Boubou Niang, Political Advisor to the Special Envoy for Darfur and Dr. Dawit Toga, Political Analyst at the Conflict Management Division, held consultations with Mr. Ali Osman Mohammed Taha, First Vice President of the Sudan, on 26 April 2005, on ways and means of rapidly resuming the Abuja Peace Talks. The Team was accompanied by Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, Special Representative of the AU Chairperson for the Sudan, and Head of the African Mission in the Sudan (AMIS).
The AU Team had earlier met with Dr. Magzoub Al Khalifa, Minister of Agriculture and Head of the Sudanese delegation to the Abuja Inter-Sudanese Peace Talks.
The current consultations are being undertaken as a follow-up to the first round of discussions held at the end of February 2005, with all the Sudanese Parties to the conflict in Darfur.
The AU Team briefed the Sudanese officials about the preparations being made by the AU to create an environment conducive to the resumption of the political negotiations.
The First Vice President reaffirmed his Government's commitment and readiness to go back to Abuja in order to reach a comprehensive agreement to the conflict in Darfur.
First Vice President Taha also assured the Team that the concerned Government officials are working on the Draft Framework Protocol for the resolution of the conflict in Darfur that was earlier submitted by the Mediation Team to the Sudanese Parties and will communicate its comments and observations after the Team would have met the other parties to the talks.
In the course of the discussions, issues relating to the date, format and duration of the Talks were thoroughly reviewed.
It was agreed that the exact dates for the resumption of the talks would be announced at the end of the current consultations.
After Khartoum, the Team will continue its consultations on the same issues with the Sudanese Movements, namely, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), and the interested parties.
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Zimbabwe to send 34 troops for peacekeeping mission in Sudan
Zimbabwe is contributing 34 soldiers to a 10,000-strong UN peacekeeping force being deployed to support a January peace deal which ended 21 years of civil war in southern Sudan, state television said Tuesday, April 26.
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US and NZ to provide further aid to Sudan refugees
Coalition for Darfur notes aid is starting to come through for Darfur. Not much been made in the press of the quick US response that averted ration cuts.
Photo: Refugees cook a meal
New Zealand government would provide an additional 3.1 million US dollars this year to assist displaced people in the Sudan.
Half a million Sudanese refugees, like these in Kakuma camp in Kenya, could go home under the new peace deal for South Sudan (UNHCR) - April 26, 2005 (Xinhua)
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A New Sudan Action plan - ICG
Here is a pompous sounding briefing titled A New Sudan Action plan by the International Crisis Group, April 26, 2005.
ICG claims it outlines a policy blueprint for the next steps required in Darfur.
[A policy blueprint and steps for whom? The whole thing is quite unbelievable. What are they smoking over there?]
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Is Sudan All That Simple?
American blogger Bradford Plumer writes some super posts on the Sudan. It is hard to believe he is only 22. Note this great post titled Is Sudan All That Simple? And read more at Never Again... Again plus Onlookers to a Massacre and Sudan, China, Oil, Genocide