UN envoy Jan Pronk cites Al-Qaeda threats to his own life and non-African UN troops deployed to Sudan's Darfur
"The government of Sudan has taken a strong position against the transition," Jan Pronk, the UN's top envoy to Sudan, told reporters in New York, referring to the planned shift from an African Union force in Darfur to UN blue helmets possibly backed by NATO. Pronk said the government in Khartoum fears the type of occupation of Sudan that the U.S.-led coalition has undertaken in Iraq.Further reading:
The AU has about 7,000 soldiers in Darfur, a commitment that doesn't adequately protect villagers from militia attacks, Pronk said.
"They are in an extremely difficult position," he said of the AU troops. "There are places in Darfur where militias are assembling themselves in thousands and preparing attacks that take place. Three thousand men on camels and horseback ride into villages with army cars behind them."
Pronk said preparations for a UN mission to Darfur have also been thrown into doubt by the African Union's reconsideration of the transition. It is no longer certain what the AU, which initially supported the idea, will decide at a March 10 meeting on the issue, he said.
"We are in a stalemate politically," Pronk said. "The climate in Khartoum against the UN is heating up. There are threats, warnings about al-Qaeda."
Pronk said intelligence shows there are "persons in Khartoum who were not there before," meaning al-Qaeda terrorists who have threatened his life and would act against any UN troops, particularly non-Africans. Khartoum is Sudan's capital.
The US has circulated what US Ambassador John Bolton called "elements" of a Security Council resolution defining the mandate of a UN mission to Darfur. Bolton said there was no support for action on the text before the AU meeting.
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