Sudan accepts UN resolution on Darfur force

Sudan on Wednesday accepted a UN resolution approving a joint African Union-UN peacekeeping force in Darfur.

 Sudan accepts UN resolution on Darfur force
Sudan on Wednesday accepted a UN resolution approving a joint African Union-UN peacekeeping force in Darfur.

"We announce our acceptance of the resolution," Foreign Minister Lam Akol told journalists the day after the council unanimously approved the 26,000-strong force.

Akol also announced "our engagement in applying the part that concerns us" in Resolution 1769, after Khartoum finally agreed to the hybrid force on July 12 on condition that it be comprised essentially of African troops.

Besides requiring acceptance of the deployment, the resolution urges Khartoum and rebel groups to commit themselves to a permanent ceasefire and to join peace talks under AU-UN mediation.

The United States ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad had warned of "the swift adoption of unilateral and multilateral measures" against Khartoum if it failed to comply with the resolution.

Akol said the resolution "responded to several of Sudan's reserves and concerns" and "only permits the use of force in self-defence" and to "protect civilians in conflict zones without damaging Sudan's sovereignty."

"We can live with the resolution and will undertake to implement our part of the resolution and expect others to do the same," he said of the resolution UN chief Ban Ki-moon hailed as "historic and unprecedented."

Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir has repeatedly accused Washington of leading efforts to recolonise Sudan, as a result of which Western troop numbers in the hybrid force are likely to be minimal.

Australia has offered to send medics and France, the only non-African nation with troops nearby, in Chad, has offered soldiers while stressing the importance of Africa's contribution.

A senior British official has suggested that the joint force could be on the ground by October 1, but others said it would not be deployed before 2008.

"It is unlikely that anything will be on the ground before the end of the year," said Tom Cargill, Africa expert at London's Chatham House think-tank.

He said it would take some time to bring together a largely African force, noting also that Khartoum has been "incredibly successful diplomatically" by taking "advantage of divisions between Council members."

Cargill pointed out that after several rewrites to get key Sudan ally China to accept the draft, the explicit threat of further sanctions had been removed, meaning the resolution "puts up the pressure but it's not coercive."

The UN refugee agency on Wednesday said the new force would be crucial to relief management in Darfur.

"Right now we cannot move: convoys of food come under attack... The situation can't get much worse," said UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond.

The new resolution authorises the UN-AU force to take "the necessary action" under Chapter Seven of the UN Charter to protect its personnel, ensure security and freedom of movement for humanitarian workers, prevent attacks and threats against civilians.

London-based Sudan specialist Douglas Johnson told AFP that "the general consensus is that this resolution is a start. It will make it more difficult for (Khartoum's) military operations of a formal sort to continue in Darfur."

It "probably will encourage the factions within Darfur to take peace negotiations more seriously than they have so far," he said.

He said the resolution gives peacekeepers "a clear mandate to protect themselves but it doesn't give them a clear mandate to protect civilians and it's the main point of a peacekeeping force to protect civilians."

London-based rights group Amnesty International welcomed the resolution but said the mission must deploy immediately.

"The truth is the people of Darfur are living in the midst of a massive humanitarian and human rights crisis," Amnesty chief Irene Khan warned.

"They can wait no longer for protection. It must be delivered immediately, effectively and with a full mandate to protect civilians from further violence."

The resolution notably also does not authorise foreign troops to pursue alleged war criminals sought by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

An official in Tripoli meanwhile said that rebel groups that had not signed a peace deal in May 2006 have now adopted a joint position ahead of fresh talks beginning on Friday in Arusha, Tanzania.

AFP
Last Mod: 02 Ağustos 2007, 13:23
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