Disturbing reports in the past 48 hours indicate that the Sudanese Government is on the point of expelling the African Union Mission from Darfur.
According to a report yesterday in London-based Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat, Sudan's Vice-President, Ali Osman Mohammed Taha, on a visit to Kordofan, stated that Khartoum had asked the AU to withdraw its troops immediately, and told them that their withdrawal should be finished by 30 September.
"Their troops are no longer required"
"We will write to all African countries with troops in Darfur," he is quoted as saying. "We thank them for their previous work, but at the same time we say that their troops are no longer required in Sudan. This is because they are trying to change into being a UN force. This clearly contradicts their original mandate. Omar Bashir himself has told the AU before that if it agreed to a UN takeover, he would ask its countries to remove their troops immediately. However, we leave the door open for the rebuilding of confidence between Khartoum and the AU if it withdraws its support for UN Resolution 1706."
Resolution 1706, passed Thursday 31 August, authorised a transferral from the AU mission in Darfur to a UN peacekeeping mission comprising 17,000 troops, on condition of Khartoum's acceptance. Khartoum immediately rejected the resolution.
Late Saturday, senior AU representatives stated that though they had seen media reports indicating Khartoum was ordering the AU mission to leave Darfur, they had received no official notification from the Government of Sudan.
BBC World Service broadcasts to Juba in Southern Sudan and surrounding areas in Arabic on 90.0 FM and in English on 88.2 FM. In Northern Sudan: Khartoum 91.0 FM, Al Ubayyid 91.0 FM, Port Sudan 91.0 FM and Wad Madani 91.5 FM.
“Violence will bring no victory. For the sake of the Darfur civilians, all parties to the conflict have to stop resorting to violence. This is the absolute priority.” - Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, 05 June 2009
"APPREHENSION" by Rob Rooker. Painted on a wall in Maridi, Sudan. The image is of a young Nuer boy looking up among a crowd of people. Click on image for more details. Cards & prints of Rob's paintings can be purchased online at Imagekind.com