Home | News    Wednesday 23 August 2006

US opposes Sudan plan to send troops to Darfur

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Aug 22, 2006 (WASHINGTON) — The United States on Tuesday strongly criticized Sudan’s plan to send more of its own troops into troubled Darfur region and said a "credible and legitimate" U.N. force was needed to stop the carnage.

A Sudanese army soldier sits next to weapons and ammunition at an outpost in Sudan’s northern Darfur town of Tawilla May 17, 2006. (Reuters)

Sudan’s government opposes U.N. peacekeepers going to Darfur, where tens out thousands of people have died in more than three years of conflict, and instead wants to send 10,500 of its own troops there. The Arab League backed this proposal over the weekend.

State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said the United States was very concerned about the plan and urged Sudan’s government to allow a U.N. force into Darfur without delay to stop what the United States say is genocide.

"Only a large, mobile, fast-reacting and robust (U.N.) force is capable of confronting the military challenges that exist in Darfur," Gallegos told Reuters.

"This credible and legitimate U.N. force, with African forces forming its core, should include Africans in key leadership positions," he said.

The African Union has about 7,000 under-funded troops struggling to halt the violence in Darfur where the trouble has worsened since the government and one of the main rebel groups signed a peace deal in May.

Gallegos said the goal of a U.N. force would be to help those displaced by the conflict and to stop increasing attacks on humanitarian workers as well as get life-saving humanitarian aid to those who needed it most.

"The Sudanese government must do its part to enable this transition to move forward immediately," he said.

Last week, Britain and the United States introduced a Security Council resolution to send some 17,000 U.N. peacekeepers to Darfur region no later than Oct. 1 and Gallegos said work was still continuing on this resolution.

He strongly condemned the attack on an African Union convoy last week in Darfur that killed two peacekeepers.

Gallegos urged Sudan’s government to cooperate fully in an investigation into the attack, which he said was another indication of the lack of security in Darfur and the need for a U.N. force.

A coalition of eight Darfuri groups based in the United States sent a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday urging the quick deployment of a U.N. force and condemning Sudan’s plans to send their own troops there.

"Our brothers and sisters still in Darfur cannot afford another month of debate. The time to act is now," said Suliman Giddo of the group Darfur Peace and Development.

"The United Nations must not delay sending real help to Darfur and must not for one instant consider allowing the perpetrators of genocide to reinforce their Janjaweed militias," he said, referring to the Arab militia mobilized by Sudan’s government in response to a rebel uprising in Darfur.

The Janjaweed, who are usually on horseback, conducted a campaign of murder, looting and rape. In recent months, in-fighting among the rebels has resulted in similar atrocities against civilians.

(Reuters)

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