Home | News    Saturday 4 September 2004

African Union will send more troops to Sudan’s Darfur if asked: Obasanjo

BRAZZAVILLE, Sept 4 (AFP) — The African Union will send more troops to Sudan’s war-torn western Darfur region if asked to do so, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is the current head of the AU, said during a visit to the Congo Republic.

"If we are asked to send more forces and observers to Darfur, we will do so," Obasanjo told AFP on his arrival at Brazzaville airport for a lightning visit during which he will meet President Denis Sassou Nguesso.

The AU decided at its summit in Addis Ababa in July to send 300 soldiers and 176 observers to Darfur, where up to 50,000 people have been killed and 1.4 million forced to flee their homes since February last year, when rebels rose up against the government.

Khartoum’s response to the rebellion was to give its proxy Arab militia, the Janjaweed, a free rein to brutally crack down on the black African population in Darfur.

"Three-hundred Rwandan and Nigerian soldiers are in Darfur. Observers are also on site," said Obasanjo.

"Our duty as African heads of state is to protect Africans wherever they may be," he added.

Talks between the two Darfur rebel groups and the Khartoum government resumed in the Nigerian capital Saturday after a one day recess.

The talks were expected to focus on the key issue of restoring security in the war-torn area.

Obasanjo said he wants to include Sassou Nguesso, who holds the revolving presidency of the Economic Community of Central African States, in the talks on Darfur.

Obasanjo was due to leave Brazzaville later Saturday.