Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Arabs agree funding for AU troops in Darfur from Oct 1, 2006 plus extra troops from Arab states

News just in from AFP says Arab leaders reached a deal to provide funding for African Union troops in Darfur, officials at their summit in Khartoum said.

Announcing a deal after a closed-door session at the summit, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh told reporters that China's Xinhua reported eight African Arab nations had also agreed to strengthen the AU force by providing troops from Arab states.

However, an Arab diplomat told AFP that discussions were still underway and that a final accord had yet to be reached.

A further AFP report today says the summit's agenda was squeezed into one day from the originally planned two days, and some leaders have already left Khartoum. But a final declaration is not expected before Wednesday.
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The Arabs are unlikely to have to live up to their pledge

Reuters correspondent Opheera McDoom reported today Arab leaders have promised to fund AMIS from October this year. Excerpt:
"There was a complete commitment from Arab leaders to fund the African Union mission in Darfur from Oct. 1, 2006," said Sudan's minister of state for foreign affairs, al-Samani al-Wasiyla.

Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdel-Rahman Shalgam said: "The AU is able to finance with the donors still 6 months. After that (during) the second mandate the Arabs are going to support those troops."

Palestinian Foreign Minister Nasser al-Kidwa told Reuters the decision could mean the Arab League would entirely fund the cash-strapped mission if necessary.
Note, the report says that given the AU earlier this month renewed its mission only until end-September, a period the UN considers transitional and are making plans to take over, the Arabs are unlikely to have to live up to their pledge. Further excerpts:
Opposition politicians say the government is scared UN forces in Darfur may be used to arrest anyone indicted by the International Criminal Court, which is investigating alleged war crimes in the region.

The AU says it costs around $17 million a month to run the 7,000-strong mission. The AU relies on the whim of donor nations, mainly, the US, Canada, Britain and the European Union. UN peacekeeping mission are paid for by the UN budget. Arab League officials say the pan-Arab body has already given $200,000 to the AU mission in Darfur and $50,000 to the Abuja peace process.
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In message to Arab League Summit, Secretery-General reviews situations in key areas of conflict

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the summit the envisioned UN force would likely include AU troops already on the ground rather than large numbers of Western soldiers in a speech read on his behalf.

Click here to read the text of the message, as delivered today, 28 March, 2006 by Ibrahim Gambari, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs.
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12 heads of state from 22-member Arab League attended summit

Reuters/Scotsman confirms only 12 heads of state from the 22-member Arab League attended the summit, a disappointing turnout for the Sudanese hosts, who had hoped for a show of solidarity against Western criticism of their handling of the Darfur crisis.

President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, the most populous Arab state, sent his prime minister while King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, the richest country, delegated his foreign minister.

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