UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon begins the next phase of his Sudan peace mission today in neighboring Chad. He is expected to discuss implementation of a European Union peacekeeping contingent in Chad. Chad’s President Idriss Deby recently pledged cooperation with the EU force to stem the violence across Sudan’s common borders with Chad and the Central African Republic and safeguard displaced victims of the fighting in Darfur who have found refuge outside Sudan’s western region. Colin Thomas-Jensen is policy adviser to the Enough Project, an initiative aimed at ending genocide and crimes against humanity. With negotiations set to begin next month between dissident Sudanese rebel groups and the Khartoum government, he says that the international community seems to be on track with its latest initiatives.
“The solution that the international community has come up with to deal with security in Chad, I think, is the right one. We’re talking about a European Union force made up of multiple countries, not just France, to provide security as well as a police operation led by the United Nations to protect civilians in the camps. If they deploy quickly and with the appropriate resources, I think this is a force that can make a tremendous difference,” he said.
Despite Sudanese acquiescence to a hybrid African - international monitoring team in western Darfur, Thomas-Jensen says Khartoum continues to pose roadblocks to impede bringing about an end to attacks by marauding Janjaweed Arab militias, assisted by Sudanese government air support.
“The government of Sudan has made it clear time and again that they expect this mission to be made up principally of African troops, although the international community is well aware that there simply is no way African militaries can come up with an additional 19-thousand forces in addition to the seven thousand they’ve got on the ground now. So the conditions the government of Sudan is slipping into the agreements that they have made are likely to slow deployment down, and it’s only through concerted international pressure – the type of pressure that Gordon Brown and Nicholas Sarkozy talked about last week – that’s the only thing that’s going to make sure that this force gets on the ground quickly,” he says.
After talks in Chad, the Secretary General will continue to pave the way for the start of Sudanese negotiations with eight Darfur dissident rebel groups, scheduled to commence next month in Libya. Thomas-Jensen says
“We’ve seen how Muammar Qaddhafi has been able to play a role, both constructive in attempting to resolve the conflict between Chad and Sudan and now hosting peace talks. But he’s also played a destructive role in that he’s been a principal supplier of weapons to multiple armed groups across the region. And so, I think what we can expect from this visit is a message from the Secretary General reinforcing that constructive role,” he said.