June 23, 2006 Mail & Guardian report
by Jean-Jacques Cornish - excerpt:
Al Bashir took full advantage of the spotlight, and the presence of AU and UN fact-finding teams in Sudan, to vent his spleen on the issue of peacekeepers.
He said they would be neo--colonialists and accused Jewish organisations of pushing for their deployment. "The UN Security Council decided on deployment of international forces in Darfur under Chapter Seven after we have reached a peace agreement that has ended a crisis the West has branded as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world," said Al Bashir.
"We know everything. We know their agenda. We have our own bugging and monitoring systems through which we ascertained that those forces are coming with a colonial agenda, they are coming not for keeping peace but to remain in Darfur as forces of occupation."
He rejected the argument that the AU cannot finance a large enough peacekeeping force in Sudan. "They kept silent when the Arab League offered to finance the AU operations and they have not asked themselves how those operations are financed at present.
"We know that the UN has no money. Recently UN humanitarian envoy Jan Egeland said his organisation could not find funds for financing humanitarian operations. How is it going to finance those forces of occupation?" asked Al Bashir.
Mbeki insisted that the purpose of his visit to Khartoum was not to reinforce the need for blue helmets in Darfur.
"The AU should continue discharging its mandate in Darfur while the UN may assist in a way that is acceptable to the Sudanese government," said Mbeki. "The Sudan is an important country in the continent and anything that happens in it will have an impact in Africa."
He commended both Al Bashir and the former rebel Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement for the progress made in implementing the comprehensive peace agreement, but pointedly added that there are outstanding issues that need to be tackled.
The South African leader was in Khartoum to get the latest information to report to the African Union summit in Banjul next week.
South Africa heads the AU committee for the reconstruction of Sudan and is the current chair of the AU Peace and Security Council.