Friday, March 10, 2006

AU proposes 9 month Darfur mission - Sudan ready to reinforce it with 10,000 troops - half SPLA - within 3 wks

An unsourced news article from Khartoum 14 January 2006, claims Sudan proposed in meetings of the AU's Peace and Security Council the formation of an army representing Sudan government, the AU and the armed groups in Darfur.

Next day, AFP reported Sudan proposed a tripartite force for Darfur. An IOL report on the same day said such a proposal was likely to be fiercely opposed by rebel movements who want Western troops to take over from the AU peacekeepers.

[Links to the reports can be found in Sudan Watch blog entry: Sudan proposes formation of joint army force of GOS/Rebel/AU troops for Darfur and offers to partly finance AU troops in Darfur]

Note, Reuters report today by C. Bryson Hull and T. Tadesse - excerpt:

AU Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare recommended extending the AU mission in Sudan (AMIS), suggesting that the AU may try to push for more time to persuade Sudan to accept a U.N. presence in its vast western region.

"In the meantime, the AMIS operation should continue and be enhanced. I recommend that the (AU's) Peace and Security Council renew the mandate of the mission for a period of nine months, until December 31," Konare said in a report released before a meeting of the council.

That would be predicated on firm funding commitments from AU partners, intensified efforts to push the Darfur parties to agreement at peace talks in Abuja, Nigeria, and on finding a diplomatic solution to the crisis between Chad and Sudan, the report said.

The cost of extending the mission from April through December would be $218 million (125 million pounds) the report said. AMIS still needs an additional $4.6 million just to reach the end of March, it said.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol said an AU decision to turn over its Darfur peacekeeping mission to the United Nations would spell the end of peace talks in Nigeria and any AU role in security in Darfur.

"It is imperative to underline the fact that the AU has absolutely no legal authority to transfer its mission to the U.N. or any other body," Akol said in a statement to the AU.

"As much as the government of Sudan would want AMIS to continue, should the AU choose to terminate its mandate in Darfur it is free to do so, and this will include all aspects of its involvement in security and the peace processes."

Friday's ministerial level AU meeting follows two days of intensive negotiations between the European Union, which has provided the bulk of the funding for the mission, the United States and Sudan's government.

Washington and the EU tried unsuccessfully to persuade Sudan to accept a U.N. force, the possibility of which prompted government-led protests in Khartoum this week and promises of jihad against any U.N. troops.


Sudan said however, that it would accept an extension of the AU mission and would reinforce the AU in Darfur with 10,000 troops -- half of them Sudanese armed forces and half former southern Sudanese rebel SPLA soldiers who have been integrated into the Sudanese army.

"This force can be deployed in Darfur within three weeks," Sudan said in a presentation to the council.
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Sudan says sending foreign forces to Darfur would encourage rebels

Mar 10, 2006 AP report via Sudan Tribune: As AU debates UN takeover in Darfur, Sudan FM calls to maintain African force - "The transition of the mission to the UN will represent a serious setback for the AU," Lam Akol told African foreign ministers gathered at AU HQ in Ethiopia to discuss the proposed hand-over. "Sending any foreign and non-African forces to Darfur would encourage the rebel movements to adopt more intransigent positions in the Abuja peace talks," he added.

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