Saturday, April 09, 2005

Pan-African Parliament urges African Union to extend mandate of AU troops in Darfur, Sudan

You have to wonder why the African Union has not increased its troops in Darfur or expanded the mandate of the 2,200 AU soldiers already there. The AU has its own Security Council. It does not have to go through the UN Security Council to change the mandate of its peacekeeping troops.

An AFP report April 5 at SPLMToday says by the end of May, the AU plans to have boosted the number of its troops in Darfur to 3,200 but does not explain the reason for the months of delay. Surely if it was due to funding shortages, they'd have let the press know. They have done nothing of the kind - merely hinted at "accommodation" problems.

In March of last year, the AU established the Pan-African Parliament (PAP). PAP has no powers to pass laws and has no budget for this year although the 265-seat assembly plans to evolve into a law-making body around 2009.

Last November, PAP sent a fact finding mission to Darfur and produced a report. On Tuesday, as a result of the report, PAP urged the AU to extend the mandate of AU troops in Darfur. Why does it take PAP to raise the issue? Some days you can't help wondering if the AU is holding up things to suit the Khartoum regime.

Yesterday's post here about the savage attacks by 350 Janjaweed on the rebel-held village of Khor Abeche in southern Darfur says the AU would have had troops in the area if it weren't for Khartoum holding things up. The area has been under attack before on more than one occasion. On Feb. 25, 2005, Ken Bacon, President of Refugees International states:
Earlier this year, AMIS heard that a government-backed militia known as the Janjaweed was about to attack Khor Abeche, a town north of Nyala. AMIS started sending in patrols to protect the village. Without this proactive deployment, the village "would have been torched," said a U.S. military officer who has worked closely with the AU troops.
Note also the following copy of a report from Reuters April 8. It reveals the name of a Janjaweed commander as Nasir al Tijani Adel Kaadir of the Miseriyya tribe, based in the Arab militia stronghold of Nitega - the area mentioned in yesterday's post here [the BBC says reports speak of 17 people killed in the raid]:
Over 350 Arab militia fighters mounted on horses and camels rampaged through a village in southern Darfur this week, killing, burning and destroying everything in their paths, the African Union and the United Nations said on Friday.

"We condemn this senseless and premeditated savage attack" which destroyed everything in the rebel-held village of Khor Abeche but the mosque and the school, the organizations said in a joint statement, vowing to refer the militia commander's name to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.

The statement for the first time in the troubled region named the commander, identifying him as Nasir al Tijani Adel Kaadir of the Miseriyya tribe, based in the Arab militia stronghold of Nitega.

The Darfur attack appeared to be in retaliation for the alleged theft of 150 head of cattle, which the fighters blamed on Khor Abeche villagers, the A.U.-U.N. statement said.

Al Tijani also accused Sudan Liberation Army rebels of refusing to return the bodies of two of his men, killed in March in an earlier attack on Khor Abeche, it said.

The African Union had planned to deploy peacekeepers to both Khor Abeche and Nitega before the attack but was prevented from doing so "by what can only be inferred as deliberate official procrastination over the allocation of land for the troops' accommodation," according to the statement.

African Union Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe and U.N. envoy Jan Pronk said Sudan's government should also take action against al Tijani, accusing him of repeatedly threatening the village's destruction before actually doing so on Thursday.

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