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African Union Criticizes UN Peace Proposal for Sudan

The African Union has criticized the U.N. proposal to send a peace support mission to southern Sudan following the signing of the comprehensive north-south peace agreement.

African Union Peace and Security Director Geofrey Mugumya told VOA there is no reason why the United Nations should send a 9,000-strong mission to southern Sudan to monitor the north-south peace agreement signed January 9 in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

"Maybe they can have a contingency plan in case of any flaring-up of problems," said Mr. Mugumya. "But, to me at this point in time, I do not see any need for peacekeeping where people have agreed mutually to cease hostilities."

U.N. Special Envoy for Sudan Jan Pronk met with officials of the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement in the southern Sudanese town of Rumbek to discuss the mission's deployment and plans for reconstructing the south.

He told reporters Tuesday that the U.N. Security Council is expected to finalize details and approve the deployment of 9,000 protection forces and military observers by the middle of next month.

VOA was unable to reach Mr. Pronk's office for comment.

Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement spokesman Samson Kwaje told VOA the presence of a U.N. peace mission has already been provided for in the comprehensive peace deal.

"In principle, it is agreed that there will be some international U.N. force in the Sudan," he said. "It is mostly for disengagement of forces."

Mr. Kwaje said the mission would act as a barrier between armies from the north and the south, and would also protect other monitors such as human rights groups.

The African Union already has a presence in Sudan, primarily through its troops in the war-torn Darfur region of western Sudan.

Mr. Mugumya says, if the United Nations is going to proceed with its peace mission, it should do so with the collaboration of the African Union.

"If we could work with Jan Pronk, we could have a common approach on what we want to achieve in Sudan in general, rather than U.N. having its own objectives and Darfur having its own objectives," added Mr. Mugumya. "So this is what I want: harmonizing and common approach."

Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement spokesman Mr. Kwaje said the African Union has failed to keep peace in Darfur. He said the advantage of having the United Nations is that it can draw upon forces from all over the world, which can rapidly be deployed.