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Rebels reject Darfur deal, Sudan breaks apart

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  • #61
    WASHINGTON, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- The United States will renew its effort to press Sudan to agree to the deployment of UN peacekeepers in the troubled Darfur region, a U.S. official said on Friday.

    Jendayi Frazer, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, said she would kick off trip to Sudan on Friday, carrying a letter from U.S. President George W. Bush on the need for urgent action to halt the violence in Darfur.

    "We must stop the genocide and protect the people of Darfur," Frazer said at a State Department briefing.

    The United States and Britain presented a draft resolution to the United Nations last week calling for deployment of 17,000 UN peacekeepers to Darfur. However, Sudan has rejected appeals to allow a UN force to be deployed in Darfur.

    The Darfur conflict, which began in February 2003, has claimed thousands upon thousands of lives and driven more than one million others from their homes.

    U.S. to urge Sudan on UN force for Darfur

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    • #62
      More than 200 women have been sexually assaulted in the past five weeks alone around Kalma camp, Darfur's largest for internally displaced persons (IDPs), the International Rescue Committee (IRC) warned on Thursday.

      "All these women have been subjected to sexual assault; some women say they have been raped," Nicky Smith, IRC country representative for Sudan, told IRIN.

      Another 200 women and girls reported being beaten, punched and kicked by unidentified armed men who confronted them a few miles outside the camp near Nyala, the capital of South Darfur State.

      "This is a massive spike in figures. We are used to hearing of two to four incidents of sexual assault per month in Kalma camp," said Kurt Tjossem of the IRC, which collected the figures.

      In response to the rapidly deteriorating security situation, about 300 women convened a meeting in Kalma on 7 August to plead for more help - particularly from African Union (AU) troops who are trying to monitor a shaky ceasefire in the region.

      "Women state that the lack of AU firewood patrols in the area is a factor that heightened the risks to which they have been exposed," Smith said. These armed AU patrols used to occur three times a week at Kalma, she added, and were relatively successful in deterring attacks. Since last April, however, the cash-strapped African peacekeepers have provided just one single patrol.

      The women have no choice but to leave the relative safety of their camp to search for firewood - forcing them to walk several miles into the bush. If men went instead, they would be killed. "We have chosen to risk being raped rather than let the men risk being killed," one woman said at the 7 August meeting, according to the IRC.

      "The capacity of the AU is limited due to their lack of capacity and funding," Smith added. "They also need a stronger mandate to provide a more secure environment for civilians."

      IRC's country director said the numbers from Kalma were just one measure of Darfur's downward spiral of violence. Since the signing of the 5 May Darfur Peace Agreement, fighting has escalated between signatories and non-signatories to the peace deal. In recent weeks, as many as 50,000 people have been displaced across the region, while nine humanitarian aid workers were killed and 20 vehicles hijacked in July.

      In a report released on Tuesday, the United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, warned that the renewed conflict in Darfur had drawn attention away from the continuing practice of ethnically targeted sexual violence against girls and women, particularly by the Sudanese Armed Forces and allied Janjawid militia.

      "Grave sexual violence against girls and women in Darfur continues to worsen," he stressed. "Girls have been targeted in inter-ethnic conflicts as a deliberate form of humiliation of a group, and as a means of ethnic cleansing. Rape has been used to force displacement."

      A report from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights last year indicated that 40 percent of victims were younger than 18 years old.

      In the last previous report on the subject, released in March 2005, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported that between October 2004 and mid-February 2005, doctors in several locations in North and South Darfur had treated almost 500 women and girls who had been raped. The medical charity believed that these numbers reflected only a fraction of the total number of victims because many women were reluctant to report the crime or seek treatment.

      Eighty-one percent of those treated by the NGO claimed members of militia groups or the military assaulted them. Almost a third (28 percent) of the rape survivors who sought treatment from MSF reported that they had been raped more than once, either by a single or multiple assailants, the report said.

      Charged with publishing false information, undermining the Sudanese society and spying, MSF-Holland's head of mission in Sudan at the time, Paul Foreman, and its regional co-coordinator in Darfur, Vincent Hoedt, were arrested over the report in May 2005. Sudanese authorities dropped all charges the following month.

      The UN Security Council is discussing a draft resolution to replace an understaffed African Union peacekeeping force with a larger and more effective UN mission to restore peace in Darfur.

      The African Union, whose mandate expires at the end of September, has requested the transfer of its mission to the UN, saying it is unable to sustain a long-term peacekeeping operation. But Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir remains opposed and has warned that Sudan's army would fight any UN forces sent to Darfur.

      The three-year Darfur conflict began when rebels rose against the central government, complaining that the vast region remained underdeveloped due to neglect. The government is charged with arming local Arab militias called the Janjawid to embark on a campaign of rape, looting and murder, aimed at crushing the rebellion.

      Darfur's civilian population has borne much of the brunt of the violence, as non-combatants have been forced to flee their villages for the relative safety of teeming camps. According to Annan's latest report on Darfur, more than 200,000 people are believed to have died, with millions more displaced by the fighting.

      Sexual violence spikes around South Darfur camp

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      • #63
        A U.N. force is critical to prevent a "planned offensive" on Darfur by the Sudanese government, the U.S. State Department's top diplomat on Africa said Friday while accusing Sudan of committing genocide.

        Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer made the remarks before a trip to the central African nation. There she plans to press the government on allowing U.N. troops into the war-ravaged region, a move Khartoum opposes.

        "I'm fully confident there will be a transition to a U.N. force," Frazer said. Without it, she said, the international community would have no capability to "stop this government from carrying out what has been the genocide."

        However, atrocities are not confined to government forces, she said. Frazer accused rebel troops of burning villages and killing civilians.

        "All forces in Darfur are potentially and probably involved in atrocities," she said.

        Violence erupted three years ago in Darfur, when ethnic African rebels took up arms over what they saw as neglect by the Arab-dominated central government.

        The Sudanese government is accused of responding by unleashing Arab militias called Janjaweed, which have systematically raped women and pillaged entire villages in a campaign the United States and other nations has branded genocide.

        Violence has increased in the Darfur region of Sudan despite a May 5 peace agreement between the Sudanese government and the largest of three rebel groups - the Sudan Liberation Army.

        President Bush has instructed Frazer to carry a message to Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir, explaining that the U.S. is willing to "go the last mile" to overcome Khartoum's reluctance to a U.N. presence.

        In a media briefing Thursday, Frazer denied Khartoum's contention that the U.N. peacekeepers would make up "an occupation force."

        "The people of Darfur don't have confidence in the ability of the government to protect them, so you need and impartial, credible multilateral U.N. force with the sole purpose of helping to implement the [Darfur Peace Agreement] and providing an environment of security," she said.

        Atrocities have included the abuse of children, sexual violence against women and attacks on humanitarian workers, according to the United Nations.

        Nine humanitarian workers have been killed in the past month, more than 200 women have been raped at a Darfur refugee camp in the past five weeks, and on Saturday two soldiers with the African Union's mission were killed by an unidentified group of men.

        The financially strapped African Union force of 7,000 troops has been unable to quell the violence in Darfur.

        Khartoum has resisted international pressure to send in a robust, well-equipped U.N. force that would be in place until the other two rebel groups signed the peace agreement.

        The United States and Britain have introduced a draft resolution to the Security Council, recommending 17,000 soldiers and 3,000 police be sent to Darfur when the African Union's mandate expires in September.

        The Security Council said Thursday it will meet Monday to discuss Darfur. El-Bashir has called for the session be postponed, according to the United Nations. Khartoum also has refused an invitation to send an envoy to the United Nations to discuss U.N. intervention.

        Frazer said she hopes the council will muster enough political will to pass the resolution by the end of the month. She said it would be possible to "re-hat" about 5,200 of the African Union forces under a U.N. command before October 1.

        El-Bashir has offered to send 10,000 of his own troops to stem the violence, an action Frazer labeled an "offensive."

        "We've done that before," she said. "It led to 2 million people displaced, 200,000 people killed."

        "The government of Sudan should see that this is a failed strategy," she said.

        U.S.: U.N. forces are needed to stop Sudan 'genocide'

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        • #64
          U.S. journalist charged with spying in Sudan

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          • #65
            Two Algerian humanitarian aid planes arrive in Sudan

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            • #66
              A Sudanese national working for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), who was abducted in Sudan's Darfur region by an armed group two weeks ago, is dead, the humanitarian agency said on Wednesday.

              The Swiss-based agency said that it had not yet recovered the body of the 31-year-old man, who was not named, nor had it any details of how he was killed.

              He was the first ICRC staff member to die in Darfur, where tens of thousands of people have been killed and 2.5 million forced from their homes since a revolt began in early 2003.

              "The ICRC is shocked by his death, which comes amid a deterioration in security conditions in Darfur that has claimed the lives of other humanitarian workers in recent weeks," the agency said in a statement.

              The man was abducted east of the Jebel Marra mountains in north Darfur on Aug. 16 after an ICRC team was stopped by an armed group - also not identified in the statement.

              The team had been distributing food and the man was forced to drive one of two vehicles stolen in the attack, the agency said.

              Eleven aid workers have been killed in rising violence since a May peace deal between the Sudanese government and one of three rebel groups active in the vast region the size of France.

              Agencies involved in the world's largest humanitarian operation complain that fighting between rebel factions as well as with government forces, and increased banditry, has left huge swathes of land out of reach.

              Red Cross worker killed in Darfur after abduction

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              • #67
                Sudan may consent to a U.N. peacekeeping force in its Darfur region sooner than expected once the Security Council adopts a resolution authorizing it, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said on Wednesday.

                Despite Khartoum's opposition, the United States and Britain are pushing for a vote on Thursday on a resolution that would augment an African Union force immediately with air, engineering and communications support and authorize a U.N. operation of up to 22,500 troops and police next year.

                The six-page, 2,600-word resolution appears to have gained enough support to pass, despite opposition from Qatar, the only Arab member of the council. Qatar supports Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who had raised strong objections.

                "I think there is a chicken and an egg situation here," Bolton told reporters. "Once the resolution is passed, the consent may be forthcoming more rapidly than people think."

                The document makes clear that the U.N. force cannot be deployed without the agreement of Bashir's government, although diplomats believe Sudan would be in a weak position to oppose U.N. strengthening of the 7,000-strong African Union force, which is under-financed and on the verge of collapse.

                Ghanaian Ambassador Nana Effah-Apenteng, this month's council president, said after council discussions, that "all indications are that it will be adopted" on Thursday.

                "But it doesn't mean we are shutting the door to negotiations with the government of Sudan," he said.

                Effah-Apenteng, whose country has troops with the African Union in Darfur and supports a U.N. force, said the council was inviting high-level officials from Sudan, the Arab League and the Islamic Conference to a meeting on Sept. 8. Sudan had boycotted a similar council invitation on Monday.

                U.S. sees eventual Sudan consent to UN Darfur force

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                • #68
                  UNITED NATIONS, Aug 31 (Reuters) - A U.S.-British-drafted resolution to create a United Nations peacekeeping force in Sudan's Darfur region faces a vote on Thursday but troops will not be deployed without consent from the Khartoum government.

                  So far Sudan has refused to allow the United Nations to replace or absorb an African Union force in Darfur, which has only enough money to exist until its mandate expires on Sept. 30 and has been unable to stop the humanitarian crisis in the lawless west of the country.

                  The vote on the resolution, which can be delayed until Friday if any of the 15 U.N. Security Council members request it, calls for up to 22,500 U.N. troops and police officers and an immediate injection of air, engineering and communications support for the 7,000-member African force.

                  Council members predict 13 nations will vote in favor. Qatar, the only Arab member, is expected to vote "No" while China, which has close ties to the Sudan government, may abstain.

                  The resolution is designed to allow planning and recruitment of troops for an eventual handover.

                  Since the signing of a fragile peace pact in May between the government and two rebel groups, fighting has increased and Sudanese military is preparing to move 10,000 troops to Darfur against rebels who have refused to sign, raising fears of a full-scale war and thousands of additional deaths.

                  "We should bear in mind that 2 million people are suffering in Darfur, said Ghana's U.N. ambassador, Nana Effah-Apenteng, this month's council president. "I think the lives of those people should weigh heavily on the minds of everybody, and that is why the council is going ahead."

                  Effah-Apenteng said the council was inviting high-level officials from Sudan, the Arab League and the Islamic Conference to a meeting on Sept. 8.

                  Sudan had boycotted a similar council invitation on Monday and its president, Gen. Omar Hassan al-Bashir, has accused the United States and Britain of a conspiracy against his north African nation.

                  The resolution allows U.N. troops to "use all necessary means" within its capabilities to protect U.N. personnel and facilities and prevent attacks and threats against civilians.

                  It makes clear that the U.N. force cannot be deployed without the agreement of Bashir's government, although diplomats hope to be able to provide support to the African Union force to avoid a collapse.

                  The United Nations has some 10,000 troops, mainly from Asia, in southern Sudan to monitor a peace agreement there and is expected initially to move some units to Darfur, along with contingents of African soldiers in the region now.

                  The document also sets up political, humanitarian, military and civilian police liaison officers in neighboring Chad, where Sudanese refugees have fled.

                  The Darfur conflict erupted in February 2003, when non-Arab rebels took up arms against the government, claiming the region was being marginalized. In response, the government mobilized Arab militias known as Janjaweed, who have been accused of murder, rape and looting.

                  The fighting, disease and hunger has killed tens of thousands of people and drove some 2.5 million into squalid camps. In recent months, rebels have carried out banditry and atrocities against civilians.

                  The Arab League would like a delay in adopting the resolution, promising help to the African Union, which so far has not been forthcoming.

                  But U.S. Ambassador John Bolton told reporters, "Each day that you delay adopting the resolution is a day that pushes out the planning and logistical work that has to take place."

                  And he predicted that "once the resolution is passed, the consent may be forthcoming more rapidly than people think."

                  UN Council prepares vote to create Darfur force

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                  • #69
                    The U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution on Thursday on a U.N. peacekeeping force in Darfur to take over from 7,000 Africa Union troops.

                    Following are highlights from the 2,600-word draft. The vote was 12 in favor, none against with abstentions from China, Russia and Qatar.

                    DEPLOYMENT OF FORCE

                    -- To deploy a peacekeeping force in Darfur "on the basis of the acceptance" by the Sudan government, as an addition to the U.N. Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), which has 10,000 personnel in southern Sudan.

                    -- Creates an UNMIS mission in DARFUR of up to 22,600 military and police personnel: 17,300 military, 3,300 police and 2,000 in formed police units.

                    -- Asks U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to consult with African Union and Sudanese parties on a plan and timetable for transition from the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) to a U.N. operation. Deployment should begin no later than Oct. 1. During the transition AMIS is to be provided with air assets, ground mobility training, engineering and logistics and mobile communications capacity.

                    MANDATE

                    -- Support implementation of the May 5 Darfur Peace Agreement; investigate violations; establish a buffer or demilitarized zones inside and around camps of villagers driven from their homes.

                    -- Monitor armed groups in Darfur and along Sudan's borders with Chad and the Central African Republic.

                    -- Help develop a disarmament program for combatants and their families.

                    -- Help national police, including training and restructuring and mentoring and monitor their performance on joint patrols; help support an independence judiciary and professional corrections system to combat impunity.

                    -- Help coordinate voluntary return of refugees and other displaced people to their homes by establishing the necessary security conditions.

                    MANDATE PROVISIONS UNDER CHAPTER VII, U.N. CHARTER (which allows use of force)

                    -- UNMIS is authorized to "use all necessary means" within its capabilities to protect U.N. personnel and facilities; prevent disruption of the implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement by armed groups, and prevent attacks and threats against civilians.

                    -- UNMIS is to seize or collect arms whose presence in Darfur is in violation of the peace agreements and to "dispose of such arms and related material as appropriate."

                    CHAD, CENTRAL AFRICA REPUBLIC

                    -- Sets up political, humanitarian, military and civilian police liaison officers in key locations in Chad, where Sudan refugees had fled and villagers along the Sudanese border have been evicted from their homes. If necessary, the same system can be set up in the Central African Republic.

                    -- Requests Annan to report to the Security Council on the protection of civilians in refugee and displaced persons camps in Chad and on how to improve the security situation on the Chadian side of the border with Sudan.

                    SANCTIONS

                    The measure threatens, in response to a request by the African Union, to impose sanctions, such as an an asset freeze or travel ban, against any individual or group that violates or attempts to block the implementation of the Darfur agreement or commits human rights violations.

                    Highlights from UN resolution on Darfur force

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                    • #70
                      After all that.....

                      KHARTOUM, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Sudan rejected a Security Council resolution passed on Thursday to deploy more than 20,000 U.N. troops and police to its violent Darfur region as illegal and contravening a May peace accord, officials said.

                      "Our stand is very clear, that the Sudanese government has not been consulted and it is not appropriate to pass a resolution before they seek the permission of Sudan," said Presidential Advisor Ali Tamim Fartak.

                      The presidential advisor responsible for Darfur, Majzoub al-Khalifa, told Al Jazeera television that the resolution was completely rejected by Sudan.

                      "We completely reject this resolution...which is illegal," he said. "This resolution is opposing the Darfur peace agreement."

                      The Security Council vote on Thursday was 12 in favour, with abstentions from Russia, China and Qatar, the only Arab council member, despite Sudanese and Arab requests the vote be postponed.

                      But the troops cannot be deployed until Sudan agrees. The United Nations wants to replace or absorb an African Union force in Darfur, which has funds until mid-October and whose mandate expires on Sept. 30.

                      Violence has escalated since the AU-brokered peace accord in May which was signed by only one of three negotiating factions and rejected by tens of thousands in Darfur.

                      Tens of thousands have been killed and 2.5 million people forced from their homes since mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms in early 2003.

                      Washington calls the rape, pillage and murder genocide, a charge Khartoum rejects. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is investigating alleged war crimes in the region.

                      Observers say Khartoum, who likens the U.N. transition to Western colonialism, is worried U.N. troops would arrest any officials likely to be indicted by the ICC.

                      Sudan rejects U.N. Darfur resolution as illegal

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                      • #71
                        African Union troops told to leave

                        KHARTOUM, Sudan Rebels in Sudan's ravaged Darfur region said that government forces backed by bombers were pursuing a week-old offensive and African Union (AU) peacekeepers reported continued fighting.

                        And the government significantly raised the stakes in Khartoum's standoff with the international community, calling on Sunday for the AU to withdraw its troops from all of Darfur.

                        The rebels said that aircraft were carrying out daily bombing raids as government troops seek to drive guerrillas from the National Redemption Front from their strongholds north of Darfur's provincial capital El Fasher.

                        The government, which on Thursday rejected a U.N. Security Council resolution for the deployment of a 20,000-strong U.N. force in troubled Darfur, about a week ago launched a major attack reportedly involving thousands of troops and Janjaweed militias in the northern part of Darfur.

                        The Sudanese news agency SUNA, meanwhile, quoted President Omar al-Bashir as saying U.N. attempts to deploy peacekeepers was a bid by the international community to take over his country.

                        "The call for deployment of international forces in Darfur is part of a comprehensive conspiracy for confiscating the country's sovereignty and imposing guardianship on the Sudanese people," al-Bashir said.

                        "Our decision is decisive rejection (of the U.N. resolution) then preparation for the confrontation (with the UN forces)," SUNA quoted him as saying.

                        Also Sunday, the government issued a call for the AU to pull its forces out of Darfur before Sept. 30.

                        State media reported the Cabinet said it would take over Darfur security, which "has improved, except for some violations perpetrated by the National Redemption Front which has refused to sign the agreement."

                        Northern Darfur is controlled by the rebels, who did not sign a U.S.-brokered peace deal in May aimed at ending a three-year conflict that has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced 2.5 million.

                        Rebel commander Abubakar Hamid Elnur said by satellite telephone from northern Darfur said that there were many civilian casualties. "The government is still bombing with aircraft. It is very difficult for us to protect our civilians, especially from the air," he told The Associated Press. Many civilians have fled their villages for the hills and valleys, according to the rebels.

                        Elnur said that the government forces were concentrated in the area of Um-Sidir and that heavy fighting had been taking place in recent days between Um-Sidir and Kulkul, a base abandoned by the rebels at the start of the current Sudanese offensive, which lies some 50 kilometers (about 32 miles) north of El Fasher.

                        A government armed forces' spokesman denied any aerial bombing of villages in northern Darfur and described current army activities in the area as administrative operations.

                        "The allegation that the army used military aircraft and bombed the area is false and unfounded," said the spokesman, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

                        "The rebels are interpreting in their own interest ordinary administrative operations the army is conducting in the area," he added.

                        The ill-equipped AU force of 7,000 troops has been unable to stop the humanitarian catastrophe in Darfur, where the peace deal signed by the government and one of the ethnic African rebel groups operating in the region has had little effect.

                        An AU spokesman said its forces' command in Darfur had received reports about ongoing clashes since Aug. 28 in Kulkul, Sayeh and other areas in northern Darfur.

                        Noureddine Mezni said the nearest AU military unit was investigating the fighting and will submit a report to the AU Cease-fire Commission.

                        A top AU official in Khartoum overseeing the May peace deal, Sam Ibok, said Friday that more than 20 civilians had been killed and more than 1,000 displaced since major clashes started early in the week according to reports from the affected areas.

                        The African Union has called for the U.N. to take control of the peacekeeping force, whose formal mandate expires on Sept. 30.

                        But al-Bashir has maintained steadfast hostility to the presence of the U.N. force, instead offering to send 10,000 government troops to Darfur.

                        U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Thursday released a letter he had sent to al-Bashir urging him to accept a U.N force in Darfur, saying only an impartial peacekeeping force could implement the May peace deal.

                        Annan also expressed alarm over the recent deployment of large numbers of Sudanese troops in Darfur.

                        Earlier this week, the U.N.'s top humanitarian official, Jan Egeland, warned "a man-made catastrophe of an unprecedented scale" loomed within weeks in Darfur unless the Security Council acted immediately.

                        Egeland said there could be hundreds of thousands of deaths if aid operations collapsed. The operations are already at grave risk because of rising attacks against aid workers and massive funding shortfalls.

                        The conflict in Darfur began in 2003 when ethnic African tribes revolted against the Arab-led Khartoum government. The government is accused of unleashing Arab militiamen known as janjaweed who have been blamed for widespread atrocities.

                        Darfur rebels say government on offensive, Cabinet asks AU to leave

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                        • #72
                          KHARTOUM, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Sudan will allow African Union troops to remain in its turbulent Darfur region but only if their AU mandate was extended beyond Sept. 30 and not as part of a U.N. force, a presidential adviser said on Monday.

                          Sudan raised alarms that its turbulent west could descend into full-blown war after a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Sunday AU troops monitoring a shaky ceasefire must leave when their mandate expired. The spokesman called the decision final.

                          Presidential Adviser Mustafa Osman Ismail said the government was responding to the AU's stated position that it could not sustain its 7,000 troops in Darfur beyond its mandate.

                          "The AU has refused to extend its mandate beyond Sept. 30. If they don't want to extend their mandate, they have to go," he said.

                          One African diplomat said the government softened its position overnight because they realised expelling the AU would end all implementation of an AU-brokered May peace deal.

                          "I am sure the Foreign Ministry spokesman and others were not talking from the tops of their heads yesterday," the diplomat said.

                          A U.S-British backed U.N. resolution passed on Thursday, which Khartoum rejects, said more than 20,000 U.N. troops would take over peacekeeping from AU forces who have been unable to end the violence that has ravaged Darfur for 3 1/2 years.

                          AU troops were expected to fill the gap before the arrival of the United Nations and ultimately be absorbed into the U.N. operation according to the resolution.

                          Ismail said the government rejected that transition and argued the U.N. mandate's goal was "regime change".

                          "Sudan will not accept those troops to be transformed into part of a U.N. force," he said.

                          "Monitoring the borders ... protection of civilians ... creating an independent judiciary has all become the responsibility of the international forces, so what is left for the government?" he said, referring to clauses in the U.N. resolution.

                          "The United States has a clear strategy ... of trying to weaken this government ... or trying to change the government," Ismail told reporters.

                          On Sunday two students were killed and at least 10 were injured in Darfur's main town el-Fasher as police violently dispersed an attempt to protest in favour of U.N. troops.

                          "The police entered the (el-Fasher) university to disperse the rally on the grounds that it was not permitted," a U.N. report said on Monday.

                          "During the demonstrations, a military procession of a large number of soldiers in up to 50 vehicles drove through el-Fasher town and two ... helicopters flew around to show government force."

                          Washington calls the rape, pillage and murder that has forced 2.5 million from their homes in Darfur genocide and blames the government and its allied militia known locally as Janjaweed.

                          Khartoum rejects the charge but the International Criminal Court (ICC) is investigating alleged war crimes in Darfur, where tens of thousands of people have been killed.

                          Critics say Khartoum fears U.N. troops would be used to arrest officials likely to be indicted by the ICC.

                          Aid workers and security analysts say the violence has escalated since the peace deal signed in May by one of three negotiating rebel factions.

                          Former rebels who are now part of government with the dominant National Congress Party said they did not agree with the decision to ask the AU to leave.

                          "It is endangering the Darfur peace agreement and endangering Sudan's relations with the African and the international community," said Yasser Arman, spokesman for the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM).

                          He said there had been no consultation on the decision with the partners in government such as the SPLM and the former Darfur rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), which recently joined the government after the May deal.

                          "The SPLM does not want a confrontation with the international community," he added.

                          Local papers quoted SLM leader Minni Arcua Minnawi as calling the decision "a violation of the Darfur peace deal". The African Union said it still had no official notification of the decision taken on Sunday.

                          Minnawi was part of a group of mostly non-Arab rebels who took up arms in early 2003 accusing central government of marginalising arid Darfur.

                          The EU's executive Commission called on Sudan on Monday to recognise the broad international consensus for the AU to hand over to a stronger U.N. mission, citing the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Darfur.

                          Sudan says AU can stay in Darfur but not under UN

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                          • #73
                            ADDIS ABABA, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Russia criticised on Monday a U.N. resolution that called for more than 20,000 U.N. troops to take over from African Union (AU) peacekeepers struggling to end the violence that has ravaged Sudan's western Darfur region.

                            Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the U.S and British-backed resolution was drawn up without proper consultations with the Khartoum government, which has argued that the U.N. mandate's goal was "regime change".

                            Lavrov said the decision to hand over the AU mission to the United Nations "should have been done in accordance with the basic rule of the U.N. which envisages that such a decision should be ... agreed upon with the government of Sudan."

                            "Unfortunately this resolution was taken in haste without continued consultation with the government of Sudan, while we and China at the Security Council had hoped for continued consultations. But this was not done," Lavrov said while visiting AU headquarters in Addis Ababa on Monday.

                            Russia, along with China and Qatar, abstained from voting at the U.N. Security Council on the resolution to create a U.N. peacekeeping force in Darfur last Thursday.

                            The resolution was passed nevertheless.

                            Since the signing of a fragile peace pact in May between Khartoum and two rebel groups, fighting has increased in Darfur.

                            The Sudanese military has said it wants to move 10,000 troops to the restive area to counter rebels who have refused to sign, raising fears of war and thousands more deaths.

                            Russia criticises "hasty" UN resolution on Darfur

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                            • #74
                              KHARTOUM - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned Sudan on Tuesday it would be responsible for any worsening of the humanitarian crisis in Darfur if African Union forces left because of a standoff with Khartoum over control of the mission.

                              The African Union's mandate to police a ceasefire in Darfur expires on Sept. 30, and the pan-African body has said without a major infusion of cash it could not continue any longer.

                              The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution on Thursday which transferred control of the AU mission to the United Nations once its mandate expired, assuring the continued presence of peacekeepers with a broader mandate in Sudan's west.

                              But Sudan has rejected any U.N. presence in Darfur, saying it was tantamount to an invasion that would result in an Iraq-style quagmire, attract jihadis to battle Western troops, and further a U.S. goal of "regime change" in Khartoum.

                              On Monday, Khartoum gave the AU an ultimatum: extend your mandate past Sept. 30 with funding from Sudan and the Arab League or leave.

                              "If the African Union wants to stay in Darfur as the African Union, they are welcome. But we will not accept them to become part of a U.N. force," Presidential Advisor Mustafa Osman Ismail said.

                              Annan told reporters in the Egyptian port city of Alexandria on Tuesday Sudan's decision was not "entirely positive" and he expressed concern about the security gap in the AU troops' wake.

                              "The international community has been helping about 3 million people in camps and elsewhere and if we have to leave because of lack of security, lack of access to the people, then what happens?" Annan said.

                              "The government (in Khartoum) will have to accept responsibility for doing this, and if it doesn't succeed, it will have lots of questions to answer to the rest of the world."

                              A U.S-British backed U.N. resolution adopted last Thursday called for an eventual deployment of 20,000 U.N. troops to Darfur to help end a 3 1/2 year conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people, forced 2.5 million from their homes and created one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

                              The African Union said it would meet again on Sept. 18 to review its mandate but reaffirmed on Monday its decision to end it as scheduled and transfer its operation to U.N. control.

                              Analysts say the AU is unlikely to withdraw on Sept. 30 because it does not have the cash to remove its troops from Darfur and it would take weeks to dismantle the mission.

                              And given Khartoum's defiance and U.N. reluctance to deploy a force without the government's consent, observers say a last-minute extension of the AU mandate is likely.

                              "They remain the only option until and unless a U.N. force is deployed, and the AU will not willingly choose to leave a security vacuum in Darfur," said Dave Mozersky, Sudan analyst at the International Crisis Group think tank.

                              "An AU extension would mean that donor countries will have to continue to support the AU force, hopefully not only at current levels but with the upgrades and enhancements called for in the Darfur peace agreement," he added.

                              One senior AU official, who declined to be named, said: "They will drag it out until the end of the year ... but this is no way to run a peace-keeping operation."

                              "Morale is low, we cannot pay our troops and the government makes sure we are unable to do our job."

                              Khartoum has said it would send thousands of Sudanese troops to Darfur to act as peacekeepers, an offer critics have said would only inflame the situation because many in Darfur blame the government for the violence.

                              Annan warns Sudan of security void if AU troops leave

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                              • #75
                                The Sudanese government has told the African Union to remove its peacekeepers from Darfur and rejected their replacement by a UN force, after launching a new military offensive to "restore stability" to the blighted region.

                                The Sudanese troop build-up appears to reflect a determination by Khartoum to use force to end a three-year conflict that has already cost hundreds of thousands of lives through violence and disease, seen the destruction of about 2,000 villages and forced millions from their homes.

                                The UN has warned of a fresh "man-made catastrophe" because Khartoum's offensive seems to mark the final collapse of a widely criticised US-brokered peace deal that appears only to have inflamed the conflict since it was signed four months ago.

                                In an attempt to rescue the situation, the UN security council last week agreed to an Anglo-US resolution to send 17,300 soldiers and 3,300 police officers to Darfur to replace the weak AU force that was unable to protect civilians.

                                But the Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, rejected a UN deployment, calling it "part of a comprehensive conspiracy for confiscating the country's sovereignty".

                                Critics of the government say it fears the presence of UN peacekeepers could lead to the arrest of officials for crimes against humanity.

                                Khartoum had favoured keeping in place the under-resourced and ineffective AU force, but its mandate expires at the end of this month. Sudan at first said it wanted the peacekeepers out earlier if the mission was not to be extended but, after criticism from African countries, then said they could stay to the end of September.

                                The government says it is sending its own 10,000-strong force to Darfur to "consolidate the security situation".

                                Part of the Sudanese force that arrived in the region last week is reported by AU officials to have launched bombing raids and other attacks on rebel-held villages in Darfur. Government troops have also driven rebels out of the town of Um Sidir, near the capital of North Darfur state.

                                Last week the UN's humanitarian chief, Jan Egeland, warned of "a man-made catastrophe of an unprecedented scale" in Darfur unless the UN security council intervened. Hundreds of thousands of civilians are still reliant on foreign aid, which could dry up if violence increases. "Insecurity is at its highest level since 2004, access at its lowest levels since that date and we may well be on the brink of a return to all-out war," he said.

                                Survivors of attacks over the past three years say the government attacks follow a familiar pattern in which air raids are followed by attacks by an allied militia, the Janjaweed, to kill, rape and loot.

                                The former US secretary of state Colin Powell and human rights groups have accused Sudan's government and the Arab militias of ethnic cleansing and genocide against Darfur's black population.

                                A UN inquiry concluded that there had not been genocide. The international criminal court is investigating alleged crimes against humanity in Darfur by government officials and leaders of their militia allies.

                                The government offensive marks another blow to the May peace accord. It was widely criticised, in part because only one of the three main rebel groups in Darfur endorsed it. Within weeks of signing, the Minni Minnawi faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement joined government forces in attacks on other rebel groups.

                                Analysts say the UN could force its mandate on Sudan but there is unlikely to be the political will to do so, given its commitments in Lebanon and the difficulty of finding a country willing to send troops to confront Sudanese forces.

                                Sudan throws out Darfur peacekeepers

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