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Sudan says it could assume Darfur peacekeeping mission

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June 25, 2006 (KHARTOUM) — Sudanese government reiterated its rejection of the UN force, affirming its readiness to assume peacekeeping mission in Darfur if the African Union does not extend its mission in Darfur after the 30 September.

The Sudanese cabinet has renewed its refuse to the transfer of the African Union forces mission in Darfur to international forces. This came in the regular meeting of the Council of Ministers, chaired by the President Omer al-Bashir.

The Council of Ministers asserted Sudan readiness to assume the task of peace keeping if the African Union abandoned its mandate in Darfur.

Sudanese Junior Finance minister, Lhual Deng, renewed Thursday SPLM proposal of the deployment of a joint unit of 10,000 Sudanese army and SPLA saying it could help a beleaguered African Union force keep the peace in Darfur.

Deng was speaking after two days of talks in The Hague by representatives of the main rebel group, the government and international organizations including the U.N., World Bank and African Union on rebuilding Darfur.

The mandate of AU struggling 7,000-strong force in Darfur will expire on September 30.

Sudan rejects the U.N. mission saying it would attract foreign fighters and ignite an Iraq-style conflict.

Some critics say Khartoum objects because it fears U.N. soldiers may be used to arrest officials likely to be indicted by the International Criminal Court investigating alleged war crimes in Darfur.

An African Union-mediated May 5 peace deal for Sudan’s west was signed by only one of three rebel negotiating factions in the Nigerian capital Abuja.

(ST)

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