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Sudan Rejects UN Military Role in Darfur
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Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Lam Akol said on Wednesday that his country would not allow the United Nations to play a military role in Sudan's western region of Darfur.

Lam Akol made the remarks during a meeting with Lakhdar Brahimi, special envoy of the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, according to spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Jamal Mohamed Ibrahim.

"The foreign minister explained Sudan's view on the recent UN Security Council resolution, affirming that the Darfur peace agreement does not provide in its security arrangements any role for the UN or any other party except the African Union," the spokesman told reporters.

The Sudanese government signed the peace agreement with a main rebel faction of Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) led by MinniArkou Minawi in the Nigerian capital Abuja on May 5.

But the rival SLM faction led by Abdu al-Wahid al-Nour and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) led by Khalil Ibrahim refused to sign the peace agreement. The African Union (AU) has given them until May 31 to do so.

On May 16, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution urging speedy implementation of the Darfur peace agreement and giving the Sudanese government a week to let in a UN assessment team to prepare for a UN takeover of the current AU peacekeeping mission in Darfur.

The Sudanese government, which has been strongly opposed to replacing the AU peacekeepers with UN troops, denied the team access to Darfur as the Security Council deadline expired.

Presidential advisor Majzoub al-Khalifa told reporters following his meeting with the UN envoy that the Sudanese government did not accept the deployment of international forces in Darfur under Chapter Seven of the UN Charter, which authorizes the use of force if the Security Council resolution is not complied with.

"The government does not oppose an increase in the AU peacekeeping force in Darfur as long as the move is aimed at stabilizing the situation and helping implement the Darfur peace agreement," al-Khalifa said.

He said that the UN could provide humanitarian assistance for the local residents and deliver logistic support to the AU force in Darfur.

The 7,800-strong AU peacekeeping force, which have been deployed in Darfur since the government and Darfur rebels reached a cease-fire agreement in April 2004, was too underfunded to maintain security and stability in the war-torn region, where tens of thousands of people have been killed and about one million displaced since the conflict erupted in February 2003.

Meanwhile, the Sudanese National Assembly (parliament) reiterated its opposition to deploying international forces in Darfur under Chapter Seven of the UN Charter.

Brahimi, a former Algerian foreign minister who flew into Khartoum on Tuesday to arrange access for the team, is due to meet Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir himself on Thursday to put his case for the UN technical mission to be allowed in.

(Xinhua News Agency May 25, 2006)


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