Thousands of Sudanese demonstrated today in the capital, Khartoum, protesting any deployment of U.N. troops to the western Darfur region. The marchers shouted slogans and carried banners that were anti-U.N. and anti-foreigner.
Opheera McDoom is a Khartoum-based correspondent for Reuters News Agency. She told Voice of America reporter Ashenafi Abedje, “On the whole, they were very peaceful. There was no real violence, no rioting, but on the other hand, there is a very strong anti-foreigner sentiment at the moment in Khartoum, which was felt at the demonstrations.” She says for example a foreign journalist was detained while trying to cover a speech given by the defense minister at the protest.
McDoom says opposition groups have come against the deployment of opposition groups in Darfur: “That comes from a misconception that these will be Western troops, that U.S. and U.K. troops will be on the ground in Darfur, which UN sources are saying will probably not be the case. The African troops remaining in Darfur will simply…become a U.N. force.”
The demonstrations came as African foreign ministers prepare to meet Friday to decide whether to ask the United Nations to take over control of their 7,000-strong mission in Darfur.
The African Union is said to be running out of money to maintain those troops. Sudan has threatened to leave the AU if it agrees to a U.N. takeover of peacekeeping operations there.