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Sudan's Bashir Wants AU Force to Continue in Darfur


Sudan's president has renewed his opposition to U.N. peacekeepers in Darfur, saying the African Union peacekeeping force in the region should continue.

Speaking to reporters in Gambia Thursday, President Omar al-Bashir accused the United Nations of having a "hidden agenda" that calls for Sudan's re-colonization.

Sudanese officials have made similar statements in the past as the U.N. presses the country to accept a U.N. takeover of the 7,000 African Union peacekeepers.

The AU's mandate runs out on September 30. The U.N. wants to absorb the AU force and send in at least 13,000 additional troops in an effort to restore order to the war-torn region.

More than three years of fighting in Darfur has killed an estimated 200,000 people and driven another two million from their homes.

The fighting has intensified recently as Sudanese government troops launched a new offensive against rebel groups that refused to sign a May peace agreement.

U.N. officials have warned that security in the region is deteriorating and that aid groups may have to pull out, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without needed assistance.

Earlier this week, the World Food Program said some 350,000 people in north Darfur have gone without food aid for three months because of the violence.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.