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UN peacekeeping force in Darfur : Sudan

Written by: Staff
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HAVANA, Sep 16: Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir today said he did not want a UN peacekeeping force in Darfur under any circumstances.

''We don't want the United Nations back to Sudan no matter the conditions,'' he said at a news conference during the Non-Aligned Summit in Cuba.

''We have met with (UN Secretary General) Kofi Annan and we have clarified in detail that we reject the decision of the Security Council,'' he said.

The United Nations has proposed a peacekeeping force of more than 20,000 troops and international police officers for Darfur, which suffered its bloodiest month in July since the conflict began.

Bashir said Sudan had forged close trading links with Pakistan, India, China and Malaysia and was in a position to survive any sanctions against it. He also praised Cuba for having lived through more than 40 years of US sanctions.

Western leaders, some African presidents and humanitarian groups have been pressuring al-Bashir to accept the UN peacekeepers.

The mandate for 7,000 poorly equipped African Union troops expires on September 30 and Sudan has said they would only be allowed to extend the mission if they remain under AU control.

Bashir has repeatedly resisted a U.N. peacekeeping force.

The Darfur conflict erupted in 2003 when mostly non-Arab tribes took up arms over land and water resources, accusing the Arab-dominated government of neglect.

In turn, the government is accused of arming Arab militia, known as Janjaweed, who ran a campaign of murder, rape, arson and plunder that drove more than 2 million villagers into squalid camps in Darfur and neighboring Chad.

Reuters

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