Sunday, January 09, 2005

Garang says he will not send his troops to fight Darfur

In August of last year, John Garang, leader of the SPLM, proposed a 30,000-strong peacekeeping force to "prevent genocide" in Darfur. He said a third of the force could consist of Sudanese army troops, while his group and international forces, preferably under the auspices of the AU, would each provide a third of the force.

Yesterday, the day before the signing of southern Sudan's historic peace deal, he said he will not send his forces to fight in the western Darfur region to end a worsening crisis there. He does not consider his country to be at peace until all fighting has stopped. And that peace talks were the only way to end the fighting in Darfur and rejected a military solution.

"I will not fight any other Sudanese," Garang said. "We want a fair and just political settlement for Darfur."

Of the Darfur peace talks tentatively set to continue on January 28 in Abuja, he said, "If I am invited, I will go. If I'm not, I will ask to be invited."

[Note some news reports suggest Mr Garang may not want to align himself with Darfur and violence as it could affect his already difficult and complicated task of making a success of his new Government of South Sudan - he says he would prefer to align himself with talks and negotiations, not any more violence. Also, as reported here a few days ago, the Darfur rebel group, JEM said it will not return to talks mediated by the AU, which it wants replaced by the UN although a UN spokewoman said this was not currently an option.]

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