Monday, September 27, 2004

Sudan okays more Darfur observers - Canada offers to train African troops

Sudan has told the African Union (AU) and United Nations it would welcome a proposed increase in the African military force protecting AU observers monitoring a ceasefire agreement in Darfur, a newspaper reported today (Monday).

Agriculture Minister Majzoub al-Khalia Ahmed was quoted by Al-Rai Al-Aam daily as saying the government had sent official messages to the two organisations giving its consent to more African troops.

Details would be discussed with the AU, said Ahmed, who is Sudan's chief delegate to stalled negotiations with Darfur rebels.
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Sudanese president says opposition party can stand if leader denounced

President Omar el-Bashir vowed yesterday (Sunday) to allow the opposition Popular Congress Party, which he accuses in a failed coup attempt, to resume its full political activities if it denounces and isolates its leader, Hassan Turabi.

"They, and we, all know this work has been masterminded by Turabi," he told leaders of trade unions and other popular organisations. "Let them (party members) come out, denounce Hassan Turabi and isolate him from the party and then we are ready to allow the Popular Congress to resume its full political activities."

The party's newspaper will be allowed to resume publication and the party's offices can open again if the party denounces Turabi, he said. Both were shut down in April.
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UN braces for influx of Darfur refugees as dry season ends

U.N. aid workers are readying themselves for an influx of refugees from Darfur into Chad as people in the western Sudan region take advantage of the end of the rainy season.

Refugees say they are fleeing strikes by Sudanese planes followed by raids by pro-government militiamen on camels and horses.

The UN refugee agency has contingency plans for the arrival of up to 70,000 more refugees in Chad before the end of the year and another 100,000 in 2005.
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Refugees tired of sitting around for twelve years

Excerpt from a South African news report today, entitled 'Darfur refugees, no more hope':

"Now, 12 years later, the Sudanese in Kakuma are desperately tired of war. Although peace talks have been going on since 2002 and a landmark agreement signed in Kenya in May, the outcome is still uncertain.

The Kenyan mediator, Lazarus Sumbeiywo, told dpa this week that "the situation is delicate", adding that he believes the Darfur situation has put the talks "quite far back". Asked if the good intentions of both parties could be trusted when talks resume in Kenya on October 7, Sumbeiywo could only answer with a forceful "No!""
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The United Nations' top envoy for Sudan, Jan Pronk, is to brief the U.N. Security Council later this week as it considers what action to take against Khartoum, that may include calling for an investigation into charges of genocide in Darfur, and possible sanctions against its oil industry unless it protect the region's population.

On Saturday Mr Pronk called for a large and swift deployment of African Union peacekeepers with a mandate to protect civilians and monitor Sudanese security forces on the ground in Darfur. "We need many thousands of African Union troops with a broad mandate, quick deployment, big numbers," he said Saturday evening.

In the interview on Saturday he said Sudanese government officials had most recently told him they were willing to accept a larger but unspecified number of African Union troops with greater responsibilities, also unspecified.

"I need a positive reaction to my proposal," he said, adding that 5,000 would be the minimum number of troops required for patrolling Darfur, an area as large as France. "Of course it is slow, but pressure works."
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Canada offers to train African troops

Canada will help train African troops to try to stop the Darfur crisis, Prime Minister Paul Martin said yesterday. The African Union has been told Canada stands ready “to help train those troops” and provide military equipment such as flak jackets,

Mr. Martin did not say where this training might occur, nor how many veteran Canadian peacekeepers might be available to do it. Discussions with the African Union along these lines “are in an exploratory phase,” said Melanie Gruer, Mr. Martin's press secretary.

Mr. Martin made the offer last week when he met AU leaders at the UN, but “nothing has been fleshed out at this point,” Ms. Gruer said.

Despite his frustrations with UN decision making, Mr. Martin said the world body's approval is essential for military interventions. “We don't want unilateral action by one country alone.”

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