SUDAN WATCH: Ismail: Sudan has proposed to boost the AU force in Darfur

Monday, August 28, 2006

Ismail: Sudan has proposed to boost the AU force in Darfur

Anything that boosts the African Union force in Darfur is better than nothing. News reports from a year or two ago in Sudan Watch archives, show that the late John Garang proposed to help Darfur by suggesting a joint force of 30,000 troops for Darfur - 10,000 each from SPLM/AU/GoS. I don't understand why what Khartoum is proposing can't be made to work, especially if 2,000 UNMIS monitors were deployed with enough of the right equipment and helicopters. A year or so ago, some pundits said Darfur rebels would never agree to such an arrangement. Too bad. John Garang wouldn't have made such an offer if he didn't think it would work.

Sudan Tribune Aug 27, 2006 (KHARTOUM):
Sudan reiterated its rejection to transfer of the mandate of the African Union troops to an United Nation force, instead Khartoum proposed to boost the AU force in the region.

Presidential Advisor, Mustafa Osman Ismail told the press after a meeting with US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Jenday Frazer that he renewed Sudan's opposition to UN peacekeepers in Darfur.

Ismail further indicated that Sudan has proposed to boost the AU force deployed in Darfur. Further, the government intends to deploy regular troops in the strife-torn Darfur region, besides troops of the former Darfur rebel groups signatories to the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA).

The Arab League backed this proposal last week. Sudanese president told UN Secretary General Kofi Annan that Khartoum would deploy 10,500 Sudanese troops to Darfur to provide security. However, Frazer had stressed before its arrival to Khartoum that the Sudanese forces "aren't considered neutral and so we don't feel that the people of Darfur will get any comfort" from such a move.

Ismail said they have informed Frazer that US should gives a chance for the implementation of the PDA signed on 5 May, and to allow the president of the Darfur interim authority, Minni Minawi, to form his administration.

Ismail said he told Frazer that tension would increase if a UN resolution was approved to pave way for an international force in Darfur.

The US assistant secretary of state for African affairs did not get much during two other meetings held with the Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol and Majzoub al-Khalifa who headed the government delegation to Darfur peace talks.

Lam Akol said he discussed with the visiting US official the government position that is opposed to the transition as well as the US vision in favour of the UN takeover of the AU mission in Darfur.

Sudanese presidential advisor Majzoub al-Khalifa Ahmed said a transfer of authority from African Union to UN troops would "imply lack of confidence by the UN in the African Union," adding that Khartoum continued to back the AU.

He further added "Sudan's decision is to stick with the African Union. As for their demand for a UN role - yes - but only in humanitarian assistance and in the strengthening of the AU forces - participation in strengthening the humanitarian role and support for the African forces so that they can complete their mandate of organizing security."


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