SUDAN WATCH: Sudan says AU can stay in Darfur if it accepts Arab/Sudanese funding

Monday, September 04, 2006

Sudan says AU can stay in Darfur if it accepts Arab/Sudanese funding

This is interesting. Let's hope Arab League countries come up with the right level of funding. Reportedly, the current African Union force in Darfur costs one billion US dollars per annum. AP report AU Must Accept Deal on U.N. force:
Sudan said Monday that African Union peacekeepers will have to leave Darfur unless they accept a deal within a week that would effectively block a proposed U.N. force.

Sudan's Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Kerti said the AU troops, whose formal mandate expires on Sept. 30, can only stay on in the remote, war-torn western region if they accept Arab League and Sudanese funding.

The foreign minister gave the African body a week to respond to its offer or withdraw its troops from the country, a government statement said.

European Union spokesman Amadeu Altafaj Tardio warned of dire consequences if the AU is forced to pull out before a U.N. force can take over.

"There would be a very difficult scenario," Altafaj Tardio said in a telephone interview. "We need a stronger force on the ground to ensure security. It is crucial to reach an agreement with the Sudanese before that deadline."

"There are 2.4 million internally displaced, those people will never come back to their villages unless they have security," he said.

Sudan earlier had ordered the African Union troops out by the end's month after the bloc insisted it would hand over its mandate to the United Nations, but the ultimatum apparently marked a final attempt to keep the weak African force in Darfur.

Kerti said he issued the ultimatum at a meeting Monday with the African Union representative in Khartoum, Nigerian Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe.

"The foreign minister indicated to Kingibe that the Sudan has always advocated the presence of African force in Darfur, and sought funds for the maintenance of that presence," the statement said.

"The Arab League has offered support to cover the presence of the African Union forces after September 2006," he said.

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