AU: No threat of troop withdrawal from Darfur

The African Union denied on Tuesday that troop-contributing nations had threatened to pull their forces from a mission to Darfur after a rebel attack on an AU peacekeeping base.

The AU says 10 soldiers were killed and 10 others wounded after the weekend raid—the worst assault on AU forces since 2004 when the 7 000-strong mission was deployed to western Sudan.

AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Said Djinnit said a joint United Nations-AU team would begin an inquiry into the attack, adding that the AU agreed its mandate in Darfur should be reviewed to allow its forces to respond if they are attacked.

“Member states are deeply angered about the killing and wounding of the troops in Darfur. We will not rest until they [the perpetrators] are found out and brought to swift justice,” Djinnit told reporters.

“The ambassadors who represented troop-contributing countries in the council meeting have expressed their commitment and determination to remain in Darfur until peace was restored,” he added.

Nigerian Ambassador to the AU and Ethiopia Obioma Opraha said Nigerian soldiers would remain in Darfur.

“Nigeria is not a coward country. We will not runaway when such things happens.
Nigeria is determined to remain in Darfur,” he said.

“We are committed to do our best to bring peace to Darfur.”

Criticism

Meanwhile, Sudan on Tuesday criticised the United States and European Union for failing to impose sanctions on Darfur rebel groups believed to be behind the attack on the AU troops in the war-torn region.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ali al-Sadig said the “most likely” culprits of Saturday’s attack on the Haskanita base were a splinter group of either the rebel Justice Equality Movement (JEM) or the Sudan Liberation Army’s (SLA) Unity faction.

Sudanese Justice Minister Ali al-Mardi told Reuters the international community should have punished the rebel groups that have refused to sign peace deals with the government to end the four-year conflict.

“I am talking about the big powers, in particular the US and the EU,” he said.

“What happened in Haskanita is a direct result of what the international community has failed to do. If they had exerted pressure on them, this attack would not have happened.”

The AU mediated a peace agreement between the Sudanese government and Darfur rebels in May 2006 but only one of three rebel negotiating factions signed the deal. Since then, rebels have split into a dozen factions.

The US said late on Monday it was prepared to impose fresh sanctions on whoever ordered the assault.—Reuters

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