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UN and Sudan Discuss Replacing Peacekeepers


The African Union will send more peacekeepers to Darfur because of continuing violence in the Sudanese province. The United Nations is holding talks with the Sudanese government about replacing African Union peacekeepers with United Nations troops. UN Security Council representatives are in Sudan for talks with Khartoum, trying to convince the government that a UN force with expanded powers would not be a threat to Sudan's sovereignty and would not constitute an invasion. The United Nations says it will not deploy peacekeepers without Khartoum's approval. A peace deal signed last month by the government and the largest rebel group in Darfur has not stopped the violence in Sudan and the United Nations says things must change.

Meeting with Sudanese president Omar Hassan al Bashir, his foreign minister, and newly-appointed ministers from the south of the country, UN representatives are trying to convince the government of Sudan that a UN peacekeeping force for Darfur would be neither an invasion force nor a threat to Sudanese sovereignty.

Emyr Jones Parry, British Ambassador to the United Nations, said, “The clear message that any force would only be with the consent of the government of Sudan has, I think, been very reassuring."

Ghana's Ambassador, Nana Effah Apenteng, said, “The fact that we underlined is that whatever the decision we will be taking will be the result of consultation between the Security Council and the Sudanese government went down well.”

There are some difficult decisions ahead to end the violence in Darfur. An estimated 200,000 people have been killed, and two million others have been displaced. The UN has sent a powerful delegation to convince the Sudanese -- but they acknowledge nothing will happen without Khartoum's consent.

Lam Akol Ajawin, Sudan's foreign minister, said, "The government of Sudan has nothing against the UN and that any role for the UN must be discussed by the Sudanese government, and we have been assured of that."

However, in this Islamic and strongly patriotic country people, like businessman Hafiz Abbas, fear that a big UN force would constitute an invasion similar to those in Iraq and Afghanistan. " We didn't call help. But they are coming without our calling,” he said. “When we need help, we can call help.”

The Security Council believes achieving peace in Darfur will require a more robust UN presence that has the right to defend civilians and protect itself. Sudan is wary of giving peacekeepers too much power. Talks continue.

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