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Protests Heat Up in Khartoum

A government-sponsored demonstration in Khartoum has protested international attempts to coax Sudan into accepting a U.N. mission in Darfur. The demonstration followed a visit this week by Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer.

Several hundred Sudanese rallied in the center of Khartoum, chanting anti-U.N. and anti-U.S. slogans, saying they would fight to protect Sudan from international intervention. Hundreds more drove through the capital in buses, waving banners and singing nationalist songs.

The government-backed protest was largely non-violent. Many demonstrators were students who had been released from school to attend the rally.

Ahmed Adam told VOA he is prepared to fight if the United Nations comes to Darfur.

"The Sudanese have said, 'No, no U.S.A.' No fighting, but peace in Sudan," said Ahmed Adam. "All of the students and the people and the members of Sudan stand for this day. [They] said by one voice, no, no for America, no United Nations. All of the people say by one voice, no, no, no, no, no."

Student Adam El Tayib was equally adamant.

"Any American who comes to Sudan will die in Darfur," said El Tayib. "Any American comes to Sudan, he will die."

Sudan is under pressure to allow a U.N. peacekeeping force to replace an African Union Mission that has struggled with a weak mandate and funding problems.

Despite intense international pressure, Sudan has continued to refuse a U.N. force in Darfur, likening a U.N. mission to colonization.

Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer met Tuesday with Sudanese President Omer Al Bashir to urge him to allow the United Nations to enter Darfur. Mr. Bashir initially refused to meet with the US envoy, saying he was too busy.

Though he later agreed to meet Frazer, President Bashir has continued to insist he will not allow the United Nations in Darfur.

The U.N. Security Council is set to vote on a resolution that proposes sending 20,000 troops to Darfur.

The Darfur conflict began in 2003 when rebels attacked government positions, claiming the region remained undeveloped due to neglect by the central government. Sudan is charged with arming militias to crush the rebellion, using a savage campaign of rape and murder in what the United States calls "genocide."