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UN Approves 26,000 Troops for Darfur
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The UN Security Council voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt a resolution authorizing a 26,000-strong joint African Union-United Nations peacekeeping force in Darfur, Sudan.

Under the resolution, cosponsored by Belgium, Britain, France, Italy, Peru and Slovakia, the hybrid operation in Darfur, known as UNAMID, would be authorized and mandated for an initial period of 12 months, consisting of up to 19,555 military personnel and a civilian component including up to 3,772 police personnel and 19 formed police units comprising up to 140 personnel each.

It calls on member states to finalize their contributions to UNAMID within 30 days of the adoption of the resolution.

The resolution, hailed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as "historic and unprecedented," reaffirms its "strong commitment to the sovereignty, unity, independence and territorial integrity of Sudan" and expressed determination to work with the Sudanese government to assist in tackling the various problems in Darfur.

"By authorizing the deployment of a hybrid operation for Darfur, you are sending a clear and powerful signal or your commitment to improve the lives of the people of the region, and close this tragic chapter in Sudan's history," Ban said.

The resolution calls for the establishment no later than October of an initial operational capacity for the headquarters of UNAMID, which will eventually assume full operational command authority over the hybrid peacekeeping operation.

The resolution requests that UN secretary-general report to the Security Council within 30 days and every 30 days thereafter on the status of the implementation of UNAMID's tasks.

It urges all the parties to the conflict in Darfur to immediately cease all hostilities and commit themselves to a sustained and permanent ceasefire.

Citing Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, the resolution authorizes UNAMID to "take the necessary action" to protect its personnel, facilities, installations and equipment, to ensure the security and freedom of movement of its own personnel and humanitarian workers, and to prevent armed attacks and protect civilians "without prejudice to the responsibility of the government of Sudan."

Wang Guangya, the Chinese Ambassador who serves as the Security Council president for July, this Resolution 1769 was "a consensus product reached through dialogue and consultation by parties concerned and a long-awaited result for all parties."

"Today's resolution marks a major step forward for addressing the issue," Wang said. "The Darfur issue cannot be resolved without the efforts of the Sudanese government and the cooperation of the Sudanese government is even more important for deployment as well as discharge of the hybrid operation."

He stressed that the purpose of Resolution 1769 is to "authorize the launch of the hybrid operation, rather than exert pressure or impose sanctions."

"Throughout the consultations, China has consistently stated that the resolution should be simple and clear-cut, focus on the core of authorizing deployment of the hybrid operation by the Security Council," Wang said.

British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry called the resolution "an unprecedented undertaking in scale, complexity and importance."

"The challenge ahead is multifaceted ... embracing urgent action on political, security and humanitarian tracks," Parry said. "The focus now must be on securing a political settlement in Darfur."

Sudan's UN ambassador, Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad, said the resolution adopted Tuesday has some "good improvements" over earlier drafts and that many of the Sudanese government's concerns have been taken into consideration.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad expressed satisfaction with the resolution, calling on the government of Sudan and all other parties to the conflict in Darfur to cooperate fully with the implementation of the resolution.

(Xinhua News Agency August 1, 2007)

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