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Sudan's President Lashes Out Against UN

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has stepped up his rhetoric against a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur, despite growing international diplomatic pressure to allow the U.N. to take over the peacekeeping mission.

President al-Bashir once again likened a U.N. force to colonization. He charged unnamed Jewish organizations with rallying public opinion against Sudan.

"They want to make a pretext through the Darfur issue to control us and to recolonize Sudan," he said. "These powers are imperialistic. We have to act politically and diplomatically to abort all this aggression against Sudan, all this plotting against Sudan."

At a news conference, the Sudanese leader said African Union forces, now committed to remain in Darfur until the end of this year, will not be replaced by U.N. troops in 2007.

"The extension of the [AU] troops will be ended at the end of December," he said. "We have a continuous battle. Our final decision is that the African Union should continue according to its Abuja agreement."

The AU voted last week to remain in Darfur for an additional three months. The organization said Sunday it plans to increase its peacekeeping force by more than 1,000 troops and broaden their rules of engagement.

Critics charge that the cash-strapped AU cannot properly protect millions of civilians in the region.

International observers have charged that Sudan has begun bombing civilian villages in volatile northern Darfur.

President Bashir defended the recent military action, saying that Sudanese military was fighting rebels who refuse to sign onto a May 5 peace agreement between the Sudanese government and one faction of the rebel Sudan Liberation Army.

He also disputed outside estimates that at least 200,000 people have died in the three-year Darfur conflict, saying the death toll was closer to 10,000.