Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sudan Likely to Resist US Interference in its Internal Affairs

Sudan Likely to Resist US Interference in its Internal Affairs

Mon 9 Apr 2007, 12:24 GMT
By Michael Georgy

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan is unlikely to ease its opposition to the deployment of U.N. troops in Darfur this week when a top U.S. official visits, but there are signs it may be flexible on boosting African troops in the troubled region.

Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte is expected to deliver a tough message from Washington, which has threatened new measures to try to break Sudan's resistance to international troops to back the ill-equipped African Union (AU) forces

The AU operates an overstretched 7,000-strong force in Darfur, where violence has persisted despite a 2006 peace agreement between the government and one rebel faction. Unidentified gunmen killed five AU troops earlier this month.

Negroponte will also visit Chad and Libya, two other players in the Darfur conflict. It is not clear when he will arrive in Sudan on a regional tour.

South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is known for his diplomatic skills and is promoting his country as a mediator in African affairs, will arrive in Sudan on Tuesday and is expected to discuss the Darfur issue.

At the heart of the debate is the outcome of a November meeting in Addis Ababa. The United Nations says Khartoum agreed then to a three-phase plan that would end with a hybrid AU-U.N. operation in Darfur.

Sudan said it only agreed to the first two phases of U.N. logistical and financial support.

After a meeting with Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on Saturday, African Union Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare backed Khartoum, saying that there had been a clear agreement in Addis Ababa that there would be a hybrid force consisting of an African force under AU command with logistical, financial and administrative assistance from the United Nations.

But he said the size of the African force had yet to be determined. The AU and United Nations were holding discussions on the issue on Monday in a technical meeting in Addis Ababa.


Bashir, who says U.N. troops would amount to foreign occupation, has made a vague reference to "reviewing" issues related to Darfur.

U.S. officials have said they were close to imposing new measures against Sudan but an announcement appears to have been put on hold after U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he wanted more time to convince Bashir to accept a hybrid force.

The measures contemplated include adding more firms to a U.S. sanctions list as well as further limits on Sudanese firms doing business in dollars and slapping travel and banking restrictions on at least three more Sudanese individuals.

The United States also aims to pressure Bashir militarily by helping rebuild the forces of the Sudan People's Liberation Army which was at war with the north until a 2005 peace deal.

But Sudan, which has faced little pressure from the African Union and enjoys growing ties with China, has remained defiant.

State television gave prominence to a visit by the China's special envoy Zhai Juan, who visited Darfur camps for the displaced and said international pressure would only hurt efforts to ease the suffering there.

Experts estimate that 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million fled their homes in Darfur since the conflict flared in 2003 when rebels took up arms against the central government. Khartoum says only 9,000 died.

Sudan accused European countries on Saturday of withholding support for African Union troops in Darfur to try to force the need for UN military intervention.

Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

17 Sudan soldiers dead in clash with Chad troops-Sudan

Mon 9 Apr 2007, 19:20 GMT

KHARTOUM, April 9 (Reuters) - Seventeen Sudanese soldiers were killed in clashes with Chadian troops inside Sudanese territory, a Sudanese army spokesman said on Monday.

The spokesman, who asked not to be named, told Reuters Chadian troops backed by about eight tanks and 100 off-road vehicles crossed the border and attacked the Sudanese troops about 2 km (1 mile) inside Sudan's border.

He said the Chadian troops opened fire first, killing 17 Sudanese soldiers and a number of civilians.

A source at the Chadian presidency denied any fighting had taken place between Chadian troops and the Sudanese army.

Mohammed Aghbash, the armed forces chief official spokesman, earlier told Sudanese state television 17 Sudanese troops had been killed in border clashes with Chadian troops.

1 comment:

Pan-African News Wire said...

U.N., African Union and Sudan Reach Agreement to Help Strengthen African Force in Darfur

By EDITH M. LEDERER Associated Press Writer
The Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS - The United Nations, the African Union and the Sudanese government have reached agreement to beef up the African force in Sudan's violence-wracked Darfur region with U.N. troops, police and equipment, officials said Tuesday.

U.N. deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe said a high-level technical meeting in Ethiopia on Monday set the stage for bolstering the 7,000-strong AU force. The package will include more than 3,000 U.N. troops, police, and others as well as substantial equipment.

The United Nations and Sudan agreed in November on a three-stage plan to strengthen the AU force, culminating with the deployment of a joint AU-U.N. force with 20,000 security personnel. But Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has since backed off the deal, saying he would only allow a larger AU force, with technical and logistical support from the United Nations.

The first phase, a light support package including U.N. police advisers, civilian staff and additional resources and technical support, has already been sent to Darfur. The meeting in Addis Ababa on Monday focused on finalizing the second stage of the U.N. plan.

"The meeting finalized agreement on the U.N. heavy support package ... with the exception of one element on which the Sudanese delegation is hoped to provide a positive and expeditious response," Okabe said. "The meeting also agreed to move forward expeditiously with implementation of the package."

Acting U.S. ambassador Alejandro Wolff said the United States is trying to clarify "whether this is an unconditional agreement of acceptance of the deployment of the heavy package, or if there were conditions or clarifications that in the past have been used by the government of Sudan to slow this down."

The U.N. is hoping for a response from the Sudanese government on the helicopters before high-level consultations on Darfur at U.N. headquarters April 16-17, hosted by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Last month, Sudan's president sent a letter to Ban approving a very limited U.N. role in Darfur, objecting to helicopters and reconnaissance aircraft, reducing troop levels, and ruling out international police in towns and government-controlled areas.

But in late March, Ban and al-Bashir reached an agreement to work out differences on the heavy support package at Monday's meeting in Addis Ababa.

The question of a third-phase joint U.N.-AU force, however, remains problematic.

In late March, al-Bashir sharply rejected any U.N. deployment, repeating his stance that the U.N. role must be limited to logistical and financial help for AU peacekeepers in Darfur.

The AU force has been unable to stop violence in Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.2 million forced to flee their homes in nearly four years of fighting between the government and ethnic African rebels.

The violence has only increased since a peace deal last year signed by the government and one rebel group. Other rebel groups rejected the deal and continued fighting.

On Tuesday, gunmen ambushed an African Union peacekeeping patrol in Darfur, killing one soldier and critically injuring two others, the AU mission said. The three Rwandan soldiers were part of a unit patrolling in a zone controlled by Sudan Liberation Movement rebels, the AU said.

"But there is no way to confirm whether our soldiers were attacked by the rebels until the investigation is complete," said Moussa Hamani, an AU spokesman.

Associated Press writer Alfred de Montesquiou contributed to this report from Nyala, Sudan.