Rebel says Darfur forces must include non-Africans

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KHARTOUM, Sep 22 (Reuters) The idea of having only African troops in the new peacekeeping force for Darfur is racist and the mission needs more non-African forces, an influential Darfur rebel leader said today.

Abdel Wahid el-Nur, a founder of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), said the UN part of the hybrid UN-African Union force should come from all over the world.

The United Nations and the African Union (AU) appear to have different views on the composition of the 26,000-strong joint force due to be deployed in Darfur, with the AU insisting it has enough troops for the mission.

''The resolution was for a hybrid force -- two forces, AU and the UN,'' said Nur, referring to UN Security Council resolution 1769, which authorised the deployment of the force.

''This UN force should come from Australia, from Asia, from Europe, from America, from everywhere in the world, otherwise this is a racist idea,'' he told Reuters.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol said yesterday African nations have supplied ''190 per cent'' of the ground troops needed and other nations could help with logistics as well as funds.

International experts say some 200,000 people have been killed and more than ten times that number driven from their homes since rebels took up arms against the Khartoum government and its Arab militia allies four years ago.

But Khartoum says just 9,000 people have died. UN officials say it has resisted accepting some pledges for non-African troops, turning down infantry from Thailand and Uruguay and an engineering unit from Norway.

Nur said non-Africans were necessary to end the violence.

''Even a million African forces on the ground will not bring security to our people alone, because there are already 7,000 African Union forces on the ground and the reality is that the tragedy of our people is continuing and growing more complicated,'' he said.

''It seems to be that the international community wants to compromise the life of our people in order to please the Khartoum regime without a force with a clear mandate to disarm and stop killing and to drive the new settlers from our people's land.'' Nur has said he will not attend peace talks between Darfur rebel groups and the government in Libya next month on ending four and a half years of conflict in Darfur.

REUTERS SBC KN1814

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