Darfur Dominates France-Africa Summit

The Darfur crisis dominated Franco-African gathering with Sudan reiterating opposition to the deployment of UN troops in the troubled region.

Darfur Dominates France-Africa Summit

"Concerning UN forces for Darfur, we have already said 'no' and this is valid also for the borders," Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said on the final day of the Africa-France summit on Friday, February 16, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Bashir said an international force in the trouble region would remain under the aegis of the African Union.

The two-day gathering, which opened Thursday, February 15, in the Riviera resort of Cannes has been dominated by concerns over the Darfur conflict.

Opening the meeting, French President Jacques Chirac called on Khartoum to accept an international force for the troubled region.

Led by the United States, Western countries have pressed for the deployment of UN troops in Darfur under UN resolution 1706 to take over from the AU force.

But Khartoum has adamantly opposed the UN troop deployment, saying it could worsen the situation in Darfur and turn the country into a second Iraq.

The Darfur conflict erupted in February 2003 and has killed up to 200,000 people and displaced two million people.

West-backed Rebels

Bashir said that the United Nations could provide technical and logistical help to the current 7,000-strong African Union force in the troubled region.

"The United Nations is there to provide logistical, financial and technical support so that African Union can do its work," he said.

"It is clear that the African Union troops have the peacekeeping role".

Around 7,000 AU military observers are deployed in Darfur to try to keep peace in the region but the under-equipped and cash-strapped contingent has failed to stem the bloodshed.

Bashir accused the West of backing the rebel groups in the war-torn region.

"The elements that reject the agreement move with freedom in Western capitals and receive financial and military support ... and due to this support have been successful in controlling the northern section of Darfur," Bashir told the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper in comments published on Friday.

"Is this not a direct threat to Darfur and to security and peace?"

The Sudanese government and the main rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLA), signed an AU-mediated peace deal in May to end the bloody conflict.

The movement, however, split, with one faction refusing to sign. It then joined the other rebels who had refused to sign, and formed a "National Redemption Front" which has attacked aid convoys and government positions, prompting renewed fighting which has displaced a further 50,000 people.

One of the biggest Darfur rebel factions said on Thursday it would respect a ceasefire and was ready to resume peace talks with the Sudanese government to try to halt violence in the region.

The announcement came after UN Darfur envoy Jan Eliasson and his African Union counterpart Salim Ahmed Salim met Darfur rebel commanders who rejected the 2006 peace deal.

Rebels have in the past rejected AU mediation of new talks because it mediated the first deal which they said was biased.

Sudan late Thursday signed an agreement with Chad and the Central African Republic pledging not to support rebels on each other's territories, but Chad quickly poured cold water over the deal.

Delegates from N'Djamena said similar agreements in the past had been broken.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16