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Sudan rebukes UN plan for quick Darfur takeover

Written by: Staff

KHARTOUM, Mar 25 (Reuters) Sudan today urged the United Nations to stop sending negative signals to Darfur rebels after the UN Security Council voted to speed up planning for a new peacekeeping force there.

Sudan has rejected the deployment of UN troops to its western Darfur region to relieve a 7,000-strong underfunded and nder-equipped African Union force currently monitoring a widely ignored ceasefire there.

Darfur rebels have from the beginning of the conflict demanded UN troops be deployed in Darfur and the government feels the UN takeover would encourage intransigence from the armed groups.

''They should refrain from mentioning these negative messages and taking the wrong decisions at the wrong time,'' state minister of foreign affairs al-Samani al-Wasiyla told reporters in Khartoum.

Tens of thousands have been killed and more than 2 million forced from their homes during three years of conflict in Darfur.

Washington calls the violence genocide, a charge Khartoum denies.

But the International Criminal Court is investigating alleged war crimes there.

Wasiyla added Sudan did not reject a UN force outright, but had to decide when or if it was necessary for UN troops to take over from the Africans already deployed. He said that time could be after a peace deal was agreed in the Nigerian capital Abuja, where faltering talks continue.

Sudan signed a separate peace deal last year to end Africa's longest civil war in its south. Under that deal 10,715 UN troops and police are being deployed to monitor the ceasefire.

Wasiyla said that should be used as a model for the international community for Darfur.

The UN Security Council yesterday asked the secretary-general to report back within a month with options for a possible UN deployment. But diplomats concede it would be near impossible to deploy without Sudanese agreement.

Wasiyla said Sudan was opposed to UN forces because that would imply a failure of the AU mission, which is unable to complete its work because of a lack of funds and equipment. He said the international community should fulfil those needs.

''We do not want to be the reason for the failure of the African Union,'' he said, adding the United Nations should be trying to strengthen the AU as a regional peacekeeping body.

Presidential Advisor Mustafa Osman Ismail yesterday told reporters Sudan would be asking Arab leaders meeting in Khartoum for an annual summit next week to provide more money to the AU mission to continue its work.

Reuters KD RS2017

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