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Annan: EU-African Summit Should Pressure Sudan on Darfur

  • Lisa Schlein

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan says leaders attending the upcoming European Union-Africa summit must put pressure on the Sudanese government to accept non-African troops as part of a U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur. The first EU-Africa summit in seven years will be held in Lisbon on December Saturday and Sunday. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA Mr. Annan spoke to journalists in Geneva in his capacity as president of a new organization called The Global Humanitarian Forum.

Former U.N. Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, calls the situation in Sudan very dangerous and precarious. He says the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which ended more than 20 years of civil war in the country has stalled. And, he says, no progress is being made in bringing more than four years of conflict in Darfur to an end.

In November 2006, before Annan stepped down as U.N. secretary-general, he negotiated an agreement with Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir to allow a hybrid force of 26,000 U.N. and African Union peacekeepers to go to Darfur. They are due to deploy at the end of the year.

Khartoum rejects suggestions that it is delaying the deployment of the force, but says non-African troops are not necessary. Mr. Annan disagrees and says pressure must be maintained on the government to accept the hybrid force.

"We have other forces from other regions in Sudan today," he said. "In the South, we have Jordanians. We have Pakistanis. We have Chinese. We have other forces from outside Africa operating in Sudan today as we speak. So, I do not understand the objection to accepting additional foreign forces or non-African forces in Darfur."

Darfur is the size of France. Mr. Annan urges governments to provide the hybrid force with the helicopters and fast moving trucks it needs to move around the area as quickly as possible.

He says he is confident the leaders in Lisbon will raise this issue with Sudan. What he does not know, he says, is whether they will do it publicly or in private.

"But, I am confident they will raise it because the European Union itself is considering sending troops to Chad to help with the situation there along the border with Sudan. And, some have also offered their troops," he said. "And, I think what is important is that they send a strong signal and maintain the pressure on the government of Sudan to deliver, to perform.

Mr. Annan says there is no military solution to the conflict in Sudan. And, the rebels as well as the government must understand that sooner or later a political solution will have to be hammered out around the negotiating table.

He says pressure must be applied on the splintered rebel groups to find a common position to negotiate with the government.