SUDAN WATCH: Sudan dishonest about international Darfur force - UN

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Sudan dishonest about international Darfur force - UN

Reuters 9 Aug 2006 Opheera McDoom via ReliefWeb:
Sudanese government officials are telling 'fairy tales' to convince people a UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur would amount to a Western invasion, the top UN envoy in Sudan said on Wednesday.

Jan Pronk also said it would be wise for the leader of the only one of three rebel factions to sign a Darfur peace deal in May, Minni Arcua Minnawi, to keep some political posts open for rebels who may in the future sign up to the unpopular accord.

"I call on members of the government to be honest and not to tell fairy tales to their people that the United Nations wants to invade," Pronk told reporters in Khartoum on Wednesday.

Three months after an African Union-brokered peace deal, aid agencies say they face more danger than at any other time during 3-1/2 years of conflict.

Some 14,000 aid workers care for 3.6 million Darfuris affected by the war and eight humanitarian workers were killed in July alone.

Despite this the northern party which dominates central government is refusing calls for a U.N. force from war victims, the international community, and the struggling African Union peace monitoring mission currently deployed.

Critics of the northern National Congress Party say it fears U.N. troops may be used to arrest officials likely to be indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigating alleged war crimes in the western region.

Tens of thousands have been killed after more than three years of rape, murder and looting in Darfur, violence Washington calls genocide.


The U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Louise Arbour's office said in a report on Wednesday rapes of civilians had also increased since the deal.

"There has also been an increase in rape and attempted rape cases," the report said, along with attacks on villages by armed militias, on at least one occasion backed by government troops, which resulted "in the torture and killing of civilians".

Much of the renewed fighting is between Minnawi and other rebel factions in North Darfur. They accuse him of enforcing the peace using violence and torture, some cases of which have been documented by the African Union.

Minnawi, who denies the charges, was sworn in as special assistant to the president on Monday, a position which will give him much authority over Darfur.

He and officials from his wing of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) have said only they can nominate and fill all posts dictated by the deal, including positions in central government, parliament and on a state level.

Pronk called on Minnawi to be inclusive and reserve some positions for other rebels might come on board.

"I made a plea: Don't close the door for others ... and make clear to the others that they are still welcome and that you are reserving seats," he said. "It should be an inclusive process. When it becomes exclusive it's wrong."

But he said the final decision was for Minnawi and the NCP.(Additional reporting by Robert Evans in Geneva)


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