AU 'relieved' at UN Darfur resolution

The African Union, whose contingent of peacekeepers has struggled to restore stability in Darfur over the past three years, voiced relief on Wednesday at the decision by the United Nations to send troops to the war-torn western Sudanese region.

“The AU is relieved and can only express its utmost satisfaction” at the adoption on Tuesday by the UN Security Council of a resolution creating a joint peacekeeping force for Darfur, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Said Djinnit said.

“The ball is now in the court of the UN and the AU to make sure we demonstrate an exemplary cooperation,” he said.

The resolution authorises the deployment of a robust 26 000-strong contingent of AU and UN peacekeepers to take over from the under-funded and ill-equipped 7 000 African troops who were deployed in 2004.

Khartoum, which had long opposed any UN deployment on its soil, agreed to the resolution on Wednesday, raising hopes in Sudan and abroad that the deadly civil conflict could come to an end.

“This collaboration with Sudan should be maintained. It is very important to keep this dialogue going on,” Djinnit said.

“We have to ensure that both stakeholders don’t back down from the agreement,” he added.

Djinnit said a meeting was scheduled to take place at the AU’s Addis Ababa headquarters on Thursday to assess member states’ willingness to contribute troops to the new force.—AFP

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