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Sudan Says It Will Not Submit to International Pressure


The Sudanese government says it will not submit to international pressure to allow a United Nation's peacekeeping force into the war torn region of Darfur. The latest rejection of peacekeepers comes amid warnings by aid agencies and the European Union that the situation in the Darfur is on the brink of disaster.

A Darfur peace deal was signed two months ago. However, only one of three Darfur rebel factions has signed the deal. Since then, tens of thousands of people have staged violent demonstrations in Darfur against the pact, saying it does not meet their basic demands.

Aid agencies say the security situation in Darfur has become worse since the peace deal was signed, not better.

United Nations forces would replace the 7,000 African Union troops who have been deployed in the Darfur region since November 2005.

An expert on Sudan, Mariam Jooma at the Institute for Security Studies, says that African Union soldiers have done well in exceptionally harsh circumstances, but she says they have been severely hampered by lack of resources and funding.

"When one looks at the simple geographical enormity of the region, air capacity is fundamental to an effective peace keeping operation, but also boots [people] on the ground," she says "And if one looks at how understaffed they are at the moment, their ability to respond to situations is severely compromised because they don't have enough troops, and they need something like $300 million to sustain it until December."

Jooma says the civilian population in Darfur is also becoming increasingly convinced that the African Union is backing the Sudanese government. In early May, refugees lynched an African Union translator after word spread through the camp that he was a member of the Janjaweed.

The Janjaweed are groups of largely Arab militias, thought to be backed by Khartoum. They are blamed for much of the violence in Darfur, which Washington has labeled genocide.

The African Union has held informal meetings with rebel and civilian groups in recent months to emphasize the organization's impartiality.

The president of the autonomous South Sudan and Vice President of Sudan, Salva Kiir, says he believes it will be impossible to convince Khartoum to accept international peacekeepers.

"The president has rejected the coming in of the UN peace keepers because they have not dialogued with the government of Sudan, so that is the answer full stop. As for us in the SPLM [Sudan People's Liberation Movement], of course, our position was clear because we have accepted the U.N. peace-keeping forces to come to Southern Sudan and they are now in Juba, and if we accepted them to come the south, we will have them go to any part in Sudan," noted Kiir.

The conflict began three years ago when rebel groups took up arms against the government in Khartoum complaining of neglect and political isolation.

Tens of thousand have been killed, and as many as 2.5 million people displaced.

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