Protests over Darfur peacekeepers
Photo: Thousands of Sudanese protest against UN force (Reuters) by Opheera McDoom and Jilan Sherif Mar 8, 2006.
In a BBC report today, the BBC's Jonah Fisher says although 10,000 United Nations troops are being deployed to southern and eastern Sudan, the prospect of a UN mission in the west is unacceptable to many Sudanese. Excerpt:
Stirred up by violent rhetoric in Islamic newspapers, many thousands of people are expected to march to the UN headquarters.
Our correspondent says many believe their country's sovereignty is at stake, with the West eager to turn Sudan into another Iraq.
Death threats against Western diplomats have been published and militia groups have warned of a holy war.
Photo: AU soldier in Kalma Camp, South Darfur faces a crowd holding a placard saying "WE NEED INTERNATIONAL FORCE TO PROTECT US" (Courtesy flickr file of Andrew Heavens, a journalist based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia who authors Meskel Square blog)
Protestors included militias backed by Khartoum government
Mar 8 2006 UPI report at Washington Times:
Sudanese, shouting "Down, down, USA" and "Jihad, victory, martyrdom," marched through Khartoum protesting a United Nations plan to protect those in Darfur.- - -
The protesters, numbering in the thousands, condemned a U.N. plan to take over peacekeeping operations in the Darfur region, where violence has already killed more than 200,000 civilians and made about 2 million others homeless.
The marchers included militias backed by the Khartoum government, the BBC reports. Currently, a 7,000-man force of the African Union is involved in peacekeeping efforts, but the force is facing financial problems.
The BBC report said Sudan has vowed to leave the AU if the body allows the United Nations to take over to end the violence. Many of those opposed to the plan accuse the West of wanting to turn Sudan into another Iraq.
Mar 8 2006 Coalition for Darfur points to a report by Reuters that says, quote:
"The protestors handed a statement to UN offices demanding the immediate eviction of the top UN envoy in Sudan, Jan Pronk. Sudanese women bearing kalashnikovs joined the march, declaring their readiness to fight foreign troops.
The defense minister also rallied troops against intervention at a military demonstration in Khartoum.
"Jihad, victory, martyrdom," the soldiers chanted. "Our martyrs are in heaven, and we are ready," said Defense Minister Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein."