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Sudan Tribune

Plural news and views on Sudan

SA officers denied entry into Sudan

December 12, 2006
JOHANNESBURG. A visit by top-ranking South African Defence Force officers to Sudan as part of a goodwill visit to South African troops deployed beyond the country’s borders had to be cancelled when the group was refused entry into Sudan.

The group, including several generals and other high-ranking officers, was told yesterday it would only get to visit troops deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi, Sapa news agency reported yesterday.

The official reason given was that the airport at El Fasher was busy handling troop rotations of Ghanaian troops and was unable to accommodate the South African flight.

But Sapa said the Sudanese only wanted to grant visas to a small component of the group and demanded that those visas only be issued in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

There are more than 500 South African soldiers deployed in Sudan as part of the African Union peacekeeping operation in the troubled Darfur region. Most are based in El Fasher and surrounding towns.

Last week, the United Nations withdrew all its non-essential personnel from El Fasher as the situation in and around the town became very volatile. Rebels had threatened to attack AU peacekeepers based in Sudan.

Recently, the South African government expressed concern about the mandate of the AU forces in Sudan which limited the use of force when attacked. The group of South African officers was scheduled to leave for the DRC later yesterday morning. — Xinhua.