Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has denied repeated news reports involving massive deaths in Darfur.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire Photo File.
Tue, 28 Nov 2006
Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir has disputed UN figures of fatalities in four years of bloody fighting in the region of Darfur, saying that "not even 9000" people have been killed.
"The figure of 200 000 dead is false and the number of dead is not even 9000," Beshir said in a video media conference late on Monday.
"All the figures have been falsified and the child mortality rate in Darfur does not exceed that in Khartoum," Beshir also said, accusing western powers of inflating statistics to justify a military intervention.
According to the UN, at least 200 000 people have died from the combined effect of war and famine since the fighting erupted in February 2003. Some sources say the toll is much higher.
A UN report published on Monday painted a bleak picture of the humanitarian situation in Darfur, describing it as the worst in two years.
Washington accuses Beshir's regime of genocide in Darfur and has pushed for UN peacekeepers to be dispatched there.
The Sudanese president has consistently rejected efforts to replace the African Union observers currently deployed in Darfur, accusing the West of seeking to invade his country and plunder its resources.
News Article by AP posted on November 27, 2006 at 23:33:03: EST (-5 GMT)
Sudan President Wants UN Support In Darfur, Not Intervention
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir addressed journalists from various Western capitals in a three-hour long video conference on Monday, Nov. 27 in Khartoum, Sudan
KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP)--The Sudanese president on Monday repeated his rejection of U.N. troops in Darfur but he also hinted he was trying to find a middle ground with the U.N. on how peacekeepers could support the existing African force currently deployed in the war-torn region.
President Omar al-Bashir's comments came as U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was expecting a final commitment from Sudan on a deal reached in principle earlier this month for the U.N. to conduct a "hybrid mission" with the African Union force in Darfur.
During a three-hour video conference with journalists in several international capitals, al-Bashir didn't detail Khartoum's exact position on the latest compromise deal, calling it both a "positive step" and accusing U.N. troops as being "colonial."
"The Secretary-General's position is a positive step, but we have reservations on a joint force and on its command structure," al-Bashir told reporters.
But the Sudanese president also repeated his harsh opinion of U.N. peacekeepers, warning that Sudan wouldn't let the U.N. breach its sovereignty.
"U.N. troops are colonial troops...They have never had a positive role in Africa," he said.
The agreement reached by Sudanese delegates with Annan and his AU counterpart earlier this month was aimed at breaking a diplomatic deadlock for an increased international role in solving the Darfur crisis, where more than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million have been displaced by three years of fighting between rebels and government forces.
Al-Bashir fiercely opposes an August U.N. Security Council resolution that called for more than 20,000 U.N. peacekeepers to replace the overwhelmed and ill-equipped 7,000-strong AU force in Darfur, whose mandate expires at the end of the year.
Khartoum had first signaled it was satisfied with the agreement but has since backtracked on the nature of the mission, opposing the idea that peacekeepers and the force's command structure could come from outside the AU.
Annan said he was expecting a letter from al-Bashir by Tuesday at the latest so it can be ready for the AU summit taking place Wednesday in Nigeria.
"The (Sudanese) government's response is urgent," Annan told reporters at the U.N. headquarters in New York.
Al-Bashir didn't disclose whether he was sending the letter, but said he believed the exact number of troops needed in Darfur should be decided by AU commanders in Darfur. He said the AU general in charge of peacekeeping operations had estimated no more than 9,000 troops were needed.
Annan's compromise deal would provide for 17,000 soldiers and 3,000 police to deploy in Darfur.
News Article by AP posted on November 27, 2006 at 16:50:48: EST (-5 GMT)
Sudanese rebels attack oil field, extending campaign to outside Darfur
KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) -- Darfur rebels attacked an oil field in a rare extension of their campaign eastwards toward the Sudanese capital and said Monday the military garrison guarding the field had surrendered.
But the government said its forces repelled the assault and were in full control of the Abu Jabra oil field Monday.
The attack on the field on the edge of South Darfur appeared to be another sign that Darfur's violence was spreading across the region.
"The government garrison guarding the oil field was totally destroyed," the National Redemption Front rebel group said in a statement. "Numerous soldiers, including high-ranking officers and generals, have surrendered," the rebels said, claiming to have shot down an army helicopter and to have captured a "substantial amount" of weapons and military vehicles.
A Sudanese military spokesman denied the army had surrendered, saying its troops had "inflicted heavy causalities on the rebels, who withdrew from the area." He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with official policy.
A Sudanese official in the oil industry said Abu Jabra's
capacity had been damaged in the attack, but insisted it would not affect overall production. The state-owned facility pumps up to 10,000 barrels per day -- a relatively small output. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the issue.
The rebel raid came amid heightened violence in Darfur, where
pro-government janjaweed militia have been accused by the United Nations of forcing 60,000 people to flee their homes this month. Violence in Darfur over three years has killed 200,000 people and displaced 2.5 million.
Observers fear Darfur's violence threatens to destabilize the
entire region. Neighboring Chad accuses Sudan of backing a rebel raid that briefly took a large Chadian town and threatened the capital in recent days.
To the south of Darfur, the Central African Republic also
alleges Sudan is backing a local rebellion. Khartoum denies both charges, but aid workers in the west Darfur town of El Geneina said they had seen Chadian rebel groups operating freely in the area. The aid workers spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Sudanese officials say the country produces about 500,000
barrels per day and that oil revenue should be at least $4 billion this year, more than half of the government's income.
Most of Sudan's oil reserves are in the south of the country,
which is now semi autonomous under a separate peace agreement that southern rebels signed with the government in January 2005.