Saturday, November 24, 2007

Sudan Update: Rebels Reject Chinese Troops; Non-African Soldiers Unwelcome; President Opposes Abeyi Report

23:08 MECCA TIME, 20:08 GMT

Darfur rebels reject Chinese troops

The Chinese engineers will prepare the ground for 6,000 peacekeepers due shortly

Darfur's rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) has demanded that China pull its peacekeepers out of Darfur, hours after a unit of Chinese army engineers flew into the region.

The movement said it would not allow the engineers and medical officers onto land held by its forces, accusing Beijing of stoking the crisis by supporting Khartoum.

More than 130 Chinese engineers arrived in south Darfur's capital Nyala on Saturday to pave the way for a 26,000-strong United Nations-African Union hybrid force in the conflict-ridden region, where four years of conflict have killed up to 200,000 people.

Khalil Ibrahim, leader of the JEM, said: "They are not welcome ... They can never come into our area.

"We oppose them coming because China is not interested in human rights. It is just interested in Sudan's resources. We are calling on them to quit Sudan, especially the petroleum areas."

China has advised Sudan to co-operate with UN efforts to resolve the crisis but remains its largest arms supplier, with sales increasing 25-fold between 2002 and 2005.

Total trade rose 124 per cent in the first half of 2007 compared with 2006.

'Oil for blood'

The JEM attacked a Chinese-controlled oil installation in October, in the central Sudanese region of Kordofan, but Ibrahim declined to comment on whether it would target the engineers.

"I am not saying I will attack them. I will not say I will not attack them. What I am saying is that they are taking our oil for blood," he said.

"China has so far only offered $1 million for displaced Darfur people. Meanwhile they are sucking a million barrels of oil out of Sudan every day. We do not welcome them."

The group has said they would welcome peacekeepers from any country but China.

On Friday however, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, Sudan's president, insisted China and Pakistan were the only non-African countries he would accept.

On Saturday, the widely read Sudan Tribune website said the Chinese units were also opposed by Darfur's displaced people.

Hussein Abusharati, spokesman for Darfur Internationally Displaced People, told the Paris-based site that he rejected Beijing's involvement because "genocide and robbery are taking place in Darfur since 2003 thanks to Chinese weapons".

Building mission

Ali Hamati, a UN spokesman, said the 135 Chinese engineers and medical officers arrived in Nyala at 10.30am (0730 GMT) wearing the blue berets and scarves of UN peacekeepers, the first of a 315-strong contingent promised by Beijing.

The teams will build bridges and roads, and dig wells to prepare the ground for the 26,000 peacekeepers due from January onwards.

The hybrid force is supposed to replace a beleaguered 7,000 strong troop of African Union peacekeepers which is trying to maintain security in Darfur.

Ten AU peacekeepers were killed during a raid on their base in the eastern Darfur town of Haskanita in September.

Ibrahim blamed a breakaway faction of JEM for the attack.

International experts have said the Darfur conflict between the Sudanese government and rebel fighters has killed more than 200,000 people and driven more than 4 million from their homes.

Khartoum, however, has said the international media has exaggerated the scale of the conflict.

Source: Agencies

Bashir rules out non-African troops in Darfur

KHARTOUM, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Sudan's president on Friday said he would not accept non-African troops in a combined United Nations/African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur, apart from Chinese and Pakistani technical units already committed.

It was the strongest public statement yet of Sudan's resistance to outside involvement in the war-torn region -- a stance that many in the U.N. see as a delaying tactic to undermine the peacekeeping mission.

The 26,000 "hybrid" U.N and AU peacekeepers are supposed to start operating in Darfur from January and bring security to its people after more than 4-1/2 years of conflict.

At a news conference, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said his original agreement with the AU and the U.N. was for a force made up of African troops, backed up from logistics and technical units from the UN.

Speaking through a translator, Bashir said: "When they told us that they wanted to bring other troops from other countries, we rejected them."

Offers from all other non-African countries, apart from China and Pakistan, had also come in "too late", after Sudan had signed its agreement with the U.N. and the AU over the force.

"These Swedish and Norwegian troops are not acceptable. We shall not accept them," said Bashir.

Speaking about a proposed Thai infantry battalion, Bashir added: "Even if there is a shortage of troops from the African continent, we are not going to accept those people. Because we were not consulted about it."


Bashir said the incoming peacekeepers would have to be led by an African wearing an African Union helmet. It had been widely expected that the peacekeepers would switch to blue UN helmets in January when they replace a struggling 7,000-strong AU force currently on the ground.

If Sudan sticks to its refusal, it would rule out a special forces unit offered by Nepal and a force of camel-mounted fighters that the U.N. has reportedly asked India to supply.

UN negotiators say they have not yet had any concrete refusal from Sudan on non-African troops, just a constant request for more technical discussions. But Bashir's speech was a clear rejection of further outside involvement.

Bashir denied that Sudan was setting out to delay the deployment of the hybrid operation.

"The ones who are hindering the process are those who are trying to impose their agenda on us. If there is any delay in the issue it is from the United Nations and those who are standing behind the United Nations," he said.

U.N. peacekeeping chief Jean-Marie Guehenno last week warned the peacekeeping force could fail unless Sudan relaxed its opposition to non-African troops and the international community came up with more specialized units.

No country has yet offered ground transport equipment which is needed, or met a U.N. request for 18 transport helicopters and six attack helicopters.

The U.N. said 135 Chinese army engineers were due to fly to South Darfur's capital Nyala early on Saturday to start building bridges and other infrastructure in preparation for the arrival of the hybrid force.

Sudan’s Bashir reiterates opposition to Abyei report

Saturday 24 November 2007

November 23, 2007 (KHARTOUM) — Sudanese president has renewed his full rejection of a report present by a panel of experts to define and demarcate the border of Abyei district in 1905.

Omer Hassan al-Bashir told the reporters on Friday in Khartoum at the end of three-day conference of Sudan’s ruling party that Abyei Boundaries Commission exceeded its mandate and their had no power to do so.

The mandate of comission — agreed by both sides before the ABC was appointed — was to define and demarcate the area of the nine Ngok Dinka chiefdoms transferred to Kordofan in 1905.

The Abyei Boundary Commission is made up of five international boundary specialists and one representative from each of the two parties. The chairman of the commission is Don Petterson, a former US ambassador to Sudan.

The Sudanese president also said that the proposed solution is to establish a joint transitional administration charged of providing service and to ensure security to Abyei population. He added that the National Congress Party had presented more that fifty documents while the SPLM didn’t produce any prove supporting its claim.

Deadlock between Sudan’s former north-south foes over the oil rich Abyei area led the SPLM to withdraw its ministers from the government of national unity on October 11, 2007.

Bashir was also sceptical about a proposal to hold an international meeting in Rome to resolve differences between north and south, saying the peace deal that both sides signed in 2005 provided "mechanisms to solve crises".

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