Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in south Darfur on March 18, 2009. The president called for the Darfur rebels to lay down their arms and talk peace with the government., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
SATURDAY 19 OCTOBER 2013
AU urges Sudan to protect UNAMID, demands rebels join peace process
October 18, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC) condemned the disdain with which rebel groups reacted to its previous calls for peaceful settlement to the ten year conflict in Darfur and warned them against international sanctions.
The council in its 400th meeting on 17 October also strongly urged the Sudanese government to take the appropriate measures to stop the upsurge of tribal violence, and to fulfil to its obligations by bringing to justice the perpetrators of attacks on the members of hybrid operation in Darfur.
The meeting took place days after two attacks on the African Union United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) with the participation of Sudanese government and representatives of Rwanda, France, United Kingdom, and United States, as members of the UN Security Council.
The PSC "notes with concern that some of the armed groups have consistently rejected peace efforts and agreements with impunity and total disregard for the fate of the people they claim to be representing and the efforts of the international community", said a statement released on Friday.
The African body reiterated its call to the holdout rebel groups to join the negotiating table for talks with the Sudanese government "without any further delay and without preconditions", adding that peace process cannot endlessly remains open.
The 15-member body further warned it intends to " take measures and recommend to the UN Security Council to do the same against those impeding the search for peace in Darfur".
Three main rebel groups including Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)°led Gibril Ibrahim, Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdel Wahid Al-Nur (SLM-AW) and SLM of Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) demand a comprehensive process to discuss all the regional conflicts in Sudan.
The holistic process, according to the Sudanese rebel groups, should include also all the political opposition parties and must lead to establish an interim government before to hold free elections leading to a democratic regime.
In its previous statements, the PSC urged the rebels to hold peace talks with the government under the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), reminding that constitutional reforms could intervene after the settlement of armed conflicts in Darfur and South Kordofan.
The continuation of the armed conflict hampers the international efforts to establish peace in the region, including the deployment of joint mission composed of over 19.000 peacekeepers and some 4.000 civilian international and local staff.
The UNAMID, which deployed in the troubled region since 2008, lost over 50 peacekeepers who become an easy target for unidentified gunmen. Under the Status of Forces Agreement signed between Sudan and UN the Sudanese army have to protect the joint mission.
The Sudanese government in the past blamed the hybrid mission for not cooperating with its army by informing them of their displacements, the mission underlined its independence and neutrality.
However, observers say that the Sudanese authorities, even if they were able, in some cases, to identify the armed groups, do not take the necessary measures to arrest and prosecute the culprits.
The "Council stresses that this unacceptable situation and its attendant humanitarian consequences have the potential to seriously undermine the search for a lasting solution to the conflict in Darfur", said the statement.
The statement further called on the Sudanese government to strongly "demonstrate good faith by taking all necessary measures" in order to bring to justice the perpetrators of attacks against the UNAMID and its peacekeepers.
The PSC " underlines that the decision to deploy UNAMID constitutes an act of solidarity with the people of Sudan and support to the search for peace", underlined the statement.
It further demanded the Sudanese government to update the council members, in a meeting to be held next November to review the situation in Darfur, about the steps taken to "bring to justice the perpetrators of these grave crimes, as well as to ensure the protection of UNAMID personnel, bearing in mind its obligations".
Last week unknown gunmen killed a Tanzanian military observer and three Senegalese soldiers in North and West Darfur states.