Sudan agrees on UN/AU Darfur assessment mission-UN

KHARTOUM- Sudan has agreed to allow an African Union-U.N. assessment mission into the country ahead of a possible deployment of U.N. troops to war-torn Darfur, a U.N. diplomat said on Thursday.

Speaking after a meeting with Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, U.N.

troubleshooter Lakhdar Brahimi said: “We agreed that in the coming days the United Nations and the African Union will send a joint assessment mission to Sudan.”

The mission would start work in Khartoum and then go to Darfur, he told reporters.

The Sudanese government and the main Darfur rebel faction signed a peace agreement on May 5.

The African Union (AU) earlier this month urged the government to cooperate with the United Nations and help the AU transfer its peacekeeping mission in Darfur to U.N. troops to enforce the peace deal.

Brahimi and a senior U.N. peacekeeping official, Hedi Annabi, have been in Khartoum for three days of talks to persuade Sudan to take the first step toward that mission — allowing an assessment team into Darfur.

Prior to the Darfur peace deal, Sudan had rejected a U.N. take over from ill-equipped African Union forces in Darfur, but has since said it would negotiate with the world body over the mandate and size of a possible force in its violent west.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and more than 2 million herded into miserable camps during three years of rape, murder and looting in Darfur. The United States calls the violence genocide, a charge Khartoum rejects.

The issue of sending U.N. forces into Darfur is contentious in Sudan. Sudan’s parliament erupted in a heated and divisive debate on Wednesday over a possible U.N. mission.

Deputies said one member of the ruling National Congress Party, which dominates government and the assembly, called those in favour of U.N. troops “traitors and spies”. — Reuter

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