AU wants new UN resolution on Darfur

A new United Nations resolution is needed to ensure that Sudan accepts the deployment of a long-awaited hybrid force to Darfur, the head of the African Union commission said Sunday.Alpha Oumar Konare said in his opening speech at an AU summit in Ghana that progress had been made since the last heads of state meeting in January when Khartoum’s ambitions to assume the presidency of the organisation were effectively scuppered by the continued bloodshed in Darfur.

“We have made progress [on Darfur] because Sudan has accepted the hybrid force” of troops from the African Union and the United Nations, he said.

“Now we need to implement it, persuade our Sudanese brothers to implement it. What is lacking today is a UN resolution and fresh resources to deploy our troops on the ground.” A poorly equipped and underfunded force of some 7,000 AU troops has done little to halt the violence in Sudan’s western Dafur region where, according to UN estimates, some 200,000 people have been killed in the last four years.

Diplomats revealed last week that Britain has drafted a Security Council resolution authorising the joint AU-UN peacekeeping force for Darfur and warned of possible sanctions if the Sudanese parties failed to cooperate.

The text, which Britain co-drafted with Ghana, “decides, in order to support the early and effective implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA), to establish for an initial period of 12 months” the AU-UN hybrid operation.

The draft said the proposed force shall “consist of up to 19,555 military personnel and an appropriate civilian component including up to 3,772 police personnel and 19 formed police units”. Sudanese President Omar Bashir gave his unconditional approval of the deployment of the hybrid force in a June 17 meeting with a UN council delegation in Khartoum although Washington says it will not be convinced until it sees troops on the ground.

UN Deputy Secretary General Asha Rose Migiro said the AU should be praised for how it had tried to address the situation in Darfur even though it “lacked the capacity… to bring stability”.

“The violence in Darfur has been allowed to continue for far too long,” she told the summit.

Arab League Secretary General Amr Musa was confident, however, that the crisis was coming to an end.

“We feel that the Darfur issue has gone a long way towards a possible settlement after an arrangement has been reached between the Sudanese government and other countries,” he told the Accra summit.

“The African Union should play its role fully in promoting this tendency and also call for efficient talks with all the remaining parties in Darfur. For durable peace to be reached, it is necessary that certain quarters stop financing these organisations, backing them or arming them.” Bashir was not in Accra following the death of a close adviser but he accused the West on Saturday of hyping the crisis in the Darfur because of its interest in his country’s oil reserves.

The Darfur conflict began in 2003 when an ethnic minority rose up against the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum, which then was accused of enlisting the Janjaweed militia group to help crush the rebellion.

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