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Sudan Asks AU Troops to Leave, Again Rejects UN Peacekeepers

Sudan has asked African Union troops, who are monitoring the embattled Darfur region, to leave the country by September 30. The government has rejected a United Nations resolution to send international peacekeepers to replace the A.U. troops.

Sudan says that its decision to ask the African Union to leave Darfur should not be viewed as an act of hostility toward the A.U.

The African Union had earlier said it had to leave Darfur at the end of this month because of a lack of funds for the 7,700 troops it has in the region.

Sudanese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Jamal Ibrahim said Monday his government merely responded to the A.U. decision.

"We are asking the A.U. to pull out from Darfur. It is not a Sudanese decision actually. It has been indicated in a resolution in the 30 of March," said Ibrahim. "They indicated that they will not be able to continue their assignment in Darfur beyond the 30 of September. We are just telling them to act accordingly. If they are unable then they have to pull out."

However, he made it clear his government would not accept having United Nations peacekeepers replace the A.U. force.

The United Nations Security Council last week passed a resolution to send 20,000 troops to Sudan.

Sudanese officials fiercely oppose a U.N. mission in Darfur, likening it to colonization.

The Foreign Ministry's Ibrahim says A.U. calls for United Nations support have angered Sudan.

"We think that the African Union has no right to transfer the assignment to any other party," he added. "Even if this party is the United Nations or a neighboring country or a superpower. They have no right. This is the sole right of the Sudan. We are the ones who invited the African Union into Darfur."

The spokesman says Sudan will take over peacekeeping operations in Darfur using its own troops.

But reports indicate that in the past several days, Sudan started a ground offensive in Darfur against rebel groups that did not sign a peace agreement in May.

The increase in violence in the region has led to further calls for an international force in Darfur, where more than two million people have fled their homes for squalid refugee camps.

The three-year conflict began when rebels attacked government positions, claiming that government neglect had left Darfur impoverished.

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

The United States and several other governments have said the situation in Darfur is genocide.