Sudan's President Al-Bashir tells "Comprehensive Conference of Darfur People's Committee" 25 million dollars for water in Darfur unspent due to war
Yesterday, in Khartoum, addressing at the Friendship Hall the committee of the "Comprehensive Conference of Darfur People" [see footnote], President Bashir accused foreign circles of targeting Darfur and Sudan. It would appear the president feels AU troops had entered Darfur according an agreement with Sudan's government but funding has now become an issue after two years and implies a change to the agreement.
Khartoum is selective when it comes to abiding by agreements. Two years ago, a ceasefire was agreed between Sudan's government and the Darfur rebels. Khartoum allowed AU troops to enter Sudan only on condition they were deployed as observers to monitor the ceasefire agreement, not as peacekeepers with a protection force mandate. Khartoum argued that a peacekeeping force would be perceived by locals as an occupying force and cause more fighting. Both sides broke the ceasefire agreement shortly after it was signed. For two years now, AU troops in Darfur have been monitoring a non existent truce and are (unfairly in my view) getting bad press and a poor reputation when in fact they have proved most tactful, diplomatic, professional and acted as good ambassadors of their home countries. AU soldiers in Darfur deserve medals for a tough job well done. Many news reports say the soldiers' presence does help displaced people, especially women and children.
Note, the report does not say if Mr Bashir explained that AU troops are funded voluntarily by donors whereas UN peacekeeping forces exist through a UN budget paid for by 181-member states.
Peace in Darfur could have been settled two years ago, when the death toll was reported as 10,000. To this day, the fighting in Darfur continues. Darfur death toll has risen to 400,000 or more. Janjaweed militia continue their attacks. Fighting is spreading over the border into Chad. UN admits its peace strategy has failed and 20,000 peacekeepers are now needed.
International donors cannot be relied upon on a month to month basis long-term. The UN has an ongoing budget for its peacekeepers. In a democracy, money in the public purse held by government comprises of taxes worked for and paid by citizens. Citizens have a say in how their taxes are spent. Their voices can be heard at the ballot box on election days.
How much longer does Mr Bashir think that donors, accountable to citizens, can carry on paying 17.5 million dollars each month for 7,000 AU troops in Darfur? Forever? 20,000 troops are needed because the Sudanese government continues to employ miltia as a security force to carry out raids on behalf of the government.
Sometime around the middle of 2004, Khartoum asked the UN for 90 days to rein in the Janjaweed militia. To date, there is still no news of one single Janjaweed camp being dismantled. The fact that none of the Arab tribal leaders lording over the militia are at the Darfur peace talks tells us they are represented at the talks by the Sudanese government.
Also, the report says President Bashir renewed keenness of his government to reach a settlement at the Darfur peace talks in Abuja and confirmed the government delegation at the peace talks is fully mandated. Also, re development and financing of projects in Darfur, he confirmed funds are ready but security problems had stopped implementation of the projects. He pointed out 25 million dollars was allocated for water in Darfur but not spent due to the security situation.
25 million dollars for water in Darfur? In December 2005, the AU said that it needed an extra 130 miillion US dollars to meet the demand of peacekeeping in Darfur. AU troops cost 17.5 million US dollars each month! Imagine how many water pumps could have been installed with that amount of cash to help reduce fighting over watering holes, land and livestock.
Governor of North Darfur chairs people's committee
Dec 19 2005 Sudanese News Agency Comprehensive Conference of Darfur People begins in Al-Fasher - The Wali (governor) of North Darfur State and chairman of the Comprehensive Conference of Darfur People, Osman Mohamed Yousif Kibir, said that the conference is taking place regardless of the participant's political or partisan affiliations, stressing that the freedom of expressing views is fully guaranteed to all the participants. Addressing the opening sitting of the conference Monday in Al-Fasher, the capital of North Darfur State, Kibir said that the goal of the Comprehensive Conference of Darfur People is the protection of Sudan's unity, peace and stability. He said that the conference was held for deliberations and discussion between the people of Darfur toward reaching agreement on the major issues and to give advice to both the government and the armed movements in Darfur for the sake of averting major sedition. [Article reprinted at ReliefWeb]