African Union: Fighting Renewed in Sudan’s Darfur Region
In Sudan’s Darfur region, African Union officials and human rights observers say the government has begun shelling villages in volatile northern Darfur. The renewed violence follows reports of a government troop buildup in the region, sparking fears violence could escalate.
Cairo – A Darfur rebel faction which refused to join a larger rival in signing a May peace deal with the Sudanese government said on Saturday that it would nonetheless co-operate with a proposed UN peacekeeping force for the war-ravaged western region.
The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) said it welcomed a Security Council resolution passed on Thursday approving a UN takeover of a stretched African Union (AU) force in Darfur. “We welcome this resolution which is a victory for the people of Darfur as it will put a stop to the genocide under way,” the movement’s spokesperson Ahmed Hussein Adam told AFP by telephone from London.
The Movement will co-operate fully in the implementation of the resolution and calls on the international community, and particularly the United States, to continue efforts for a comprehensive political settlement.” ‘We welcome this resolution… a victory for the people of Darfur’ Washington insists that a clause in Resolution 1706 which stipulates that the deployment of UN peacekeepers should be “on the basis of the acceptance of the government” does not give Khartoum a veto.
But with the Sudanese government maintaining its strong opposition to the deployment, analysts say member states are unlikely to contribute the nearly 20 000 troops and police foreseen for the extension of UN peacekeeping operations to Darfur without its approval. The JEM said it remained open to peace talks with Khartoum but wanted them to go beyond the existing agreement.
“The Movement is ready to resume negotiations to iron out the failings which were not addressed in the Abuja process,” he said referring to the talks in the Nigerian capital that led to the May deal between Khartoum and the mainstream faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement. Deploying a robust UN force is seen as crucial to the success of the May agreement.
The existing under-manned and under-resourced AU force has proved unable to effectively patrol a region the size of France and halt a conflict which has left up to 300 000 people dead and 2,5 million people displaced over the past three and a half years.