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African Union to Press Sudan to Allow UN Peacekeepers


A showdown is brewing between the Sudanese government and the African Union force monitoring the war-torn Darfur region. The African Union Peace and Security Council voted, re-iterated a March 10 vote on Monday, to leave Darfur at the end of this month and transfer its mission to the United Nations.

Sudan has threatened to expel the AU if it continues attempts at a U.N. transfer.

An African Union spokesman in Khartoum says Sudan has given the AU one week to clarify whether or not it will remain in Darfur, without the support of the United Nations. The AU is scheduled to meet and discuss its mandate in Darfur on September 18, long after Sudan's ultimatum has expired.

Tuesday, AU spokesman Nourredine Mezni told VOA that the AU has little choice, but to continue talks with the Sudanese government, aimed at persuading Sudan to allow the United Nations into Darfur.

"We are going to continue dialogue with the government and stakeholders," he said. "There is no alternative to dialogue. We intend to intensify our contact with the different stakeholders, basically, the government. The consultation will continue in the coming days."

Menzi says, even if Sudan does not agree to a U.N. transfer, the decision has been made to exit Sudan in late September.

The AU mission in Darfur has struggled with funding problems that have crippled its ability to conduct peacekeeping operations in the war-torn region. The AU's inability to protect Darfuri civilians has sparked worldwide calls for a U.N. mission to replace the struggling AU

Last week, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution that proposes sending some 20,000 troops to Darfur.

Sudan continues to toe a hard-line stance on the subject of U.N. troops in Darfur. Sudanese President Omer Al Bashir has spoken out vigorously against the world body.

The African Union has voted, three times, to extend its mandate until the end of September and then transfer the force to the United Nations.

The Darfur conflict began when rebels attacked government positions, claiming that the remote region remained undeveloped because of government neglect.

Sudan is charged with arming militias to crush the rebellion, using a savage campaign of rape and murder, a charge it denies.

Some 200,000 people have died and two million others have been displaced in what some Western countries are calling "genocide.".

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