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Sudan Approves UN-AU Hybrid Operation in Darfur
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The Sudanese government announced on Wednesday its approval of UN Security Council Resolution 1769 on a hybrid peacekeeping operation to be jointly conducted by the Uniterd Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU) in the country's western region of Darfur.

Foreign Minister Lam Akol made the acceptance of a 26,000-strong UN-AU hybrid force for Darfur at a press conference on Wednesday, a day after the UN Security Council unanimously voted to adopt the resolution.

"We announce our acceptance of the resolution," Akol told the journalists, adding the Sudanese government would cooperate with the UN and AU for the implementation of the Resolution 1769.

The newly approved resolution reaffirms a "strong commitment" to the sovereignty, unity, independence and territorial integrity of Sudan, and to the cause of peace.

It also expresses UN's determination to work with the Sudanese government to assist in tackling the various problems in Darfur.

Introducing Chapter VII of the UN Charter, the resolution limits the authorization of using power in Darfur to the peacekeeping force's self-defense, protecting humanitarian workers and civilians, supporting the implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) and preventing armed attacks.

The resolution stressed, meanwhile, that the mandate of the peacekeeping force could be done "without prejudice to the responsibility of the Government of Sudan".

Akol said that his government approved the resolution because it had responded to most of its concerns and reservations, though some concerns of his government had not been totally dispelled by the resolution.

"This resolution came after lengthened consultations and intensive negotiations which had lasted for more than one month," said the foreign minister, appreciating the firm positions of Russia, South Africa, Congo, Indonesia, Qatar, Ghana and China, which had led to the modifications of the original draft submitted by Britain and France.

The UN Security Council authorized on Tuesday up to 26,000 troops and police for Darfur in an effort to protect civilians and quell violence in the restive western Sudanese region.

The resolution calls on member states to finalize their contributions to the new force, called UNAMID or UN-AU Mission in Darfur, within 30 days.

UNAMID, which shall incorporate the 7,800 AU peacekeeping troops now in Darfur, will draw most of its new staff from the African countries.

Earlier on July 21-23, Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir made a rare three-day tour to Darfur, highlighting the importance of economic and social development in the region in a bid to solve the Darfur crisis.

The president's Darfur tour affirmed that security and stability had prevailed in most parts of the region, strengthening the confidence of the Sudanese people in the peace process, said the official SUNA news agency.

Coincidently, the AU and the UN special envoys for Darfur, Salim Ahmed Salim and Jan Eliasson, sent invitations to leaders of Darfur rebel movements, which have failed to sign a peace agreement with the government, to attend a meeting in Arusha, Tanzania on Aug. 3-5.

The meeting was endorsed by the Second International Meeting on Darfur, which was held in the Libyan capital of Tripoli on July 15-16 under the co-chairmanship of the AU and UN special envoys.

The objective of the Arusha meeting is to take stock of the progress made in the Road-map sponsored by the UN and the AU for the solution of the Darfur crisis.

A joint delegation of the UN and AU missions in Sudan left Khartoum on Wednesday for Arusha to take part in the meeting.

Nour Eddin al-Mazeni, the spokesman of the AU Mission in Sudan, hoped that the Arusha meeting would come up with positive results leading to the unification of the non-signatories of the DPA, paving the way for the resumption of the peace negotiations.

The DPA was signed by the Sudanese government and a main former rebel faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) in May 2006.

Most of the Darfur rebel groups, including a branch of the SLM and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), have refused to sign the DPA, claiming that it was unfair.

(Xinhua News Agency August 2, 2007)

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