SUDAN WATCH: African Union Mission in Darfur ends September 30, 2006

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

African Union Mission in Darfur ends September 30, 2006

According to an unsourced article at the SudanTribune (Paris) June 27, 2006, a press statement says a faction within SLM-Minnawi suspends Darfur Peace Agreement implementation provoking a tacit split against its leader Minni Minnawi who signed the peace deal.

Also today, an Associated Press report via Sudan Tribune tells us UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan hopes AU will pressure Sudan on UN peacekeepers - excerpt:
Despite al-Bashir's rejection of a UN force, Annan said he is not giving up ... "In politics, words like 'never' and 'forever' do not exist," Annan told reporters. "We have seen leaders say lots of things, but they also find reasons and ways to adapt, to shift, to change direction, and often forget that they have used the word 'never.'"
Surely such a statement coming from Kofi Annan is music to the rebels' ears. UN mediation and UN troops are what the Darfur rebels have wanted all along.

Surely such reports, along with the army of rebel supporters in America - not to mention their calls for UN troops - bolsters the rebels, giving them the confidence to hold out. Who is really on the side of the long suffering civilians in Sudan? There's a big pot of gold at stake for rebels. Three years of war in Darfur have now passed while another generation of Sudanese youngsters grow up without ever receiving an education. If those children resort to making a living through theft and murder (many in Darfur's SLA rebel group are as young as 16) when will the cycle of violence, fighting and war in the Sudan ever be broken?

Today, a BBC report reminds us the AU Darfur mission ends in three months - excerpt:
The peacekeepers will leave by the end of September [30] even if there is no agreement on replacing it with a United Nations force, an AU meeting agreed.

Sudan is vehemently against this move, but UN boss Kofi Annan hopes to change their mind at this weekend's AU summit.

South Africa's foreign minister said the AU did not have the money to continue even if it wanted to.

But the UN head of peacekeeping, Jean-Marie Guehenno, says the UN is committed to bolstering the AU mission.

"Whatever happens our mandate ends on 30 September unless there are new developments in the discussions between the Sudan and the UN," said South Africa's Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlaminini Zuma, who chaired an AU Peace and Security Council meeting on the subject.

"For us that mandate should end and the UN should be the one who takes over."

The meeting took place ahead of an AU heads of state summit in The Gambia.

In a separate move, the head of UN peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guehenno has said the UN will strengthen its support for the AU Darfur mission. But, he gave no details.

"We believe that the United Nations can help the African mission," he told reporters at the UN after returning from an assessment mission in Sudan.

"We did not get any objection from the government of Sudan so we are going to work in earnest on that."
See comments at BBC's Have Your Say: What should the African Union leaders do?

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