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UK, France Soften UN Text on Darfur Force
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Britain and France softened a UN resolution on Tuesday that would authorize up to 26,000 troops and police in Darfur by dropping a threat of "further measures" against Sudanese obstructing peace efforts.

But Sudan's ambassador, Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem, still objected to the revised UN Security Council draft.

"It's very ugly. It's worse than the first one," he said, prompting Andrew Natsios, the visiting US special envoy for Sudan, to say that Khartoum "should not have veto power."
No date is set for a vote although the sponsors hope for adoption this week.

Estimated to cost more than US$2 billion in the first year, the operation is an effort to quell violence in Sudan's western region.

The new text also sets a target date of December 31 to transfer authority from the African Union to a combined AU-UN force that would operate in Sudan's Darfur region, although full deployment is expected to take a year.

But the draft leaves intact a tough mandate, Sudan's biggest complaint, that would allow the use of force to ensure the security of the mission's personnel and humanitarian workers and "to protect civilians under threat of physical violence" as well as to seize or collect arms.

The resolution is under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which makes it mandatory. It would allow the mission "to use all necessary means," a euphemism for a use of force, "as it deems within its capabilities."

Sudan, after months of hesitation, has agreed to the joint or "hybrid" force but Khartoum can at any time reject entry of troop contingents.

At the same time, UN officials say troop contributors would not send soldiers into chaotic Darfur without a robust mandate.

Sudan's Abdalhaleem said, "The way they put this resolution will make the force fight the Sudanese army."

"They want to transport the Iraqi scenario to us."

Among the changes in the text is deletion of a provision on a threat of "further measures," a code word for sanctions, against rebels or the government if they obstruct a peace process.

The draft also drops a call for an interim report by a panel of experts, who have reported on violations of UN resolutions and made proposals for sanctions.

Specifically, the text would authorize up to 19,555 military personnel and 6,400 civilian police. It calls on member states to "finalize" their contributions within 90 days of adoption. Sudan has agreed to the troop numbers.

British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry, said the language of the resolution was more conciliatory towards Sudan. He said that African members of the council - South Africa, Ghana and Congo Republic-supported the draft.

But a unanimous vote is far from assured. Qatar, the only Arab member of the council, reflected Khartoum's position. Its Ambassador, Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser, said that without Khartoum's agreement the resolution could not be implemented.

Indonesia's ambassador, Rezlan Jenie, agreed.

Natsios said he opposed any US units in Darfur "because politically right now in Darfur it would create the wrong impression (and) would be used in terms of the Sudanese government. But he said Washington would contribute to air transport to get troops to Darfur.

(China Daily via agencies July 26, 2007)

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