Interview: Sudan VP Salva Kiir not opposed to UN in Darfur
Senior members of southern Sudan's former rebel group the SPLM/A (Salva Kiir is its chief, following the death of its founder John Garang) are assisting with the Darfur peace talks. Currently, a UN peacekeeping force is in southern Sudan as part of the south's CPA signed 9 January 2005.
News reports say most people involved with Darfur accept that eventually a similar force and mandate will be needed in Darfur to monitor any peace deal agreed for that region. The difference being is that southerners, six years from the date of their CPA, will be allowed to vote to break away from Sudan. Khartoum says such a deal for Darfur is out of the question. it seems Darfur will remain under Sharia law like the rest of Sudan.
Note, Sudanese rebels in eastern Sudan feel their region is just as neglected and marginalised as Darfur. Eastern Sudan is not yet part of any wealth, power and security sharing deal, causing tension and conflict in the region and along the Sudan-Chad border.
The horrific civil war in southern Sudan lasted for 21 years at a cost of two million lives. Surely the Sudanese people won't allow things to go so wrong again. 4.5 billion US dollars has been pledged by the international community for the development of southern Sudan. As soon as a peace agreement for Darfur is reached, monies pledged by donors will be released. Southerners need the cash asap. Everyone is under real pressure.
The Sudanese government says it is against international troops intervening in Darfur before a peace deal is struck because it would signal the African Union Mission in Darfur has failed (it hasn't, they've done a great job) and give the Darfur rebels what they've wanted all along, namely the UN to take over from AU. Last year, the Darfur rebels even pushed (unsuccessfully) for the UN to take over the AU mediated Darfur peace talks. Darfur's rebels use every opportunity to (unfairly in my view) denigrate AU troops whose hands are tied without a protection force mandate, advanced equipment and helicopters.
Today, VP Kiir told Reuters that UN forces could enter Darfur even before such an agreement was signed, provided they had a clear mandate so that they did not become entangled in the conflict:
"There is really nothing so serious about the coming of the UN to Darfur except the misunderstanding of their coming in by the public that (it) ... may be pre-empting the negotiations," Kiir said in an interview.Read the interview by Opheera McDoom and Jonathan Wright 27 Mar 2006.
"The mission is the first thing to be defined because if you bring in UN forces you must give them a detailed mission."