Dec 1 2006 AFP report via Turkish Press - Sudan accepts non-military UN support in Darfur
Sudan has agreed to accept non-military support from the United Nations for the African Union peacekeeping force in its war-torn Darfur region, a top AU official said after talks in Nigeria.
"The PSC welcomed Sudan?s acceptance of the use of UN systems and command and control structures," AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) head Said Djinnit told reporters late Thursday after a meeting on Darfur on the sidelines of an African-South American summit.
A source close to the talks told AFP that "systems and command and control structures" referred essentially to UN logistical support and to the question of who gets the final say over the appointment of the force commander.
Djinnit said the meeting, which was attended by Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir, agreed to extend the mandate of the currently under-resourced AU force in Darfur for a further six months.
But although Sudan reportedly accepted UN "command and control structures" for that force, it stopped short of agreeing to let the UN contribute troops, let alone take over command.
Speaking before the meeting, Beshir reaffirmed his long-standing refusal to let UN troops into his country.
"Any decision to deploy international forces in Darfur ... will add to the complexity of the situation and will have a negative impact which will certainly lead to more deterioration of the situation," he said in a statement.
This "would negatively affect all the countries of the region", he added.
He called instead for the meeting to boost the AU mission with the "logistical, technical, human and financial support of the UN".
Djinnit said Thursday's meeting had nevertheless agreed the AU and UN would, henceforth, both be involved in key decisions on the force.
The force commander would be jointly appointed by the head of the AU Commission and the UN secretary general, he said. The AU and UN would also be jointly responsible for appointing a "special representative" for Darfur.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said after talks on Darfur on November 16 that Sudan had agreed "in principle" to the deployment of a "hybrid" UN-AU peacekeeping force in Darfur.
Thursday's decision was the first indication of what Khartoum might be prepared to accept in practical terms.
Sudan continues vehemently to refuse any military role for the UN in Darfur, arguing it would be a violation of its sovereignty and could worsen the situation there.
Khartoum is especially opposed to a UN Security Council resolution that authorised, with out its approval, a 20,000-strong peacekeeping force for Darfur.
Djinnit said the AU-led force would continue to be made up "essentially of African troops".
He said the meeting had also recognised there "might be a need for UN support troops" in the region but did not indicate whether Beshir had accepted this point.
Also, see AFP report 30 Nov 2006 (via ST 1 Dec 2006) AU's Djinnit says Sudan agrees to UN command of AU force in Darfur