SUDAN WATCH: Activists, pundits and mainstream media, not Khartoum, are sending mixed messages about UN troops in Darfur

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Activists, pundits and mainstream media, not Khartoum, are sending mixed messages about UN troops in Darfur

Coalition for Darfur points to an opinion piece by Alan Rock published by Globe and Mail Aug 3, 2006. Excerpt:
Finally, let's prepare for the transition later this year from the AU force to a larger and well-equipped UN protection force. The Sudanese government continues to send, at best, mixed messages about allowing UN troops into Darfur. We need to get Moscow and Beijing, with influential regional actors such as Egypt and Libya, to press Sudan.

The world must simply refuse to take no for an answer from Khartoum, whose allegations that such a force would "recolonize" Sudan ring hollow, especially given the presence of thousands of UN troops in southern Sudan under the peace agreement that settled the prolonged conflict there.
If you read a cross section of media reports on the Sudan you will notice how journalists are doing a poor job of extrapolating and sharing news on Sudan. I've read many news reports but have never perceived the Sudanese government as sending mixed messages about allowing UN troops into Darfur. To me, they have always sounded crystal clear in that regard. However, if you follow just one newspaper (especially if it is American) you might find yourself agreeing with Alan Rock.

From what I can gather, the situation in southern Sudan is very different from that in Darfur. South Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) is quite different from that of Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA). UN peackeepers in southern Sudan are doing a different job from that of what is needed in Darfur. In Darfur there is no peace to keep.

Unlike the CPA, the DPA does not have a UN force written into the agreement. The CPA allows for the people of South Sudan to follow different religions and vote in six years time to break away from Sudan and become 'New Sudan'.

North Sudan (where most of Khartoum's supporters live) benefits from the oil in South Sudan. Not much oil in the North. The oil rich region of Abyei is still being disputed. [Note Kordofan/Abyei] Going by what I have read, Darfur is still set to remain under Sharia law and as part of Sudan. Darfur has newly discovered oil and other unexplored natural resources.

The UN force in southern Sudan was deployed under Chapter 6 mandate. African Union (AU) forces in Darfur were permitted entry into Darfur as monitors not as a protection force or anything like Chapter 7 mandate. They are there to monitor a ceasefire agreement signed a few years ago. The mandate may expire September 30.

Experts talk of a "robust" force needed in Darfur, in other words Chapter 7 mandate. China and Russia on the UN Security Council could never agree to a UN force being deployed under Chapter 7 mandate as Khartoum would oppose such a move. The UN does not have the power to alter the mandate of an AU force but the AU Peace and Security Council could dictate (which, sensibly, it won't) a mandate without requiring Khartoum's approval.

It is not difficult to think of many reasons why an AU force needs to be backed to the hilt, respected and treated as number one in Darfur. They are doing a great job against all odds and ought not be maligned and denigrated - like the rebels go to great lengths to do in order to get UN troops onside. See two previous posts here below.


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