(by Sharon Behn, WashingtonTimes.com) – Sudan’s vice president yesterday rejected a U.N. proposal to send international troops to Darfur as a threat to his country’s sovereignty, and accused the United States of undermining the Khartoum government.
“The U.S. is trying to impose its control in Africa, especially because of the oil resources in Africa,” Ali Osman Mohammed Taha said.
He said Washington had put pressure on Sudan “to change the regime and inciting the neighbors of Sudan to change the regime.”
“This has always been the strategic policy of the U.S. regarding Sudan.”
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, however, said in Nairobi, Kenya, yesterday that he still held out hope that U.N. forces could help stabilize western Sudan, perhaps by controlling the region near the country’s border with Chad.
“We are looking at the possibility of putting U.N. observers or some sort of international presence on the border and working with Chad’s government to ensure refugees there are protected and cross-border attacks are minimized,” Reuters news agency quoted Mr. Annan as saying.
Speaking in an international televised conference, Mr. Taha said his country would only welcome an expanded role for African Union forces as his government worked on a political solution to the conflict.
“We do not accept international troops and the leadership of the U.N.,” Mr. Taha said. “The international troops and international mandate is something that we do reject as undermining Sudanese sovereignty.”
The African Union has 7,000 troops in Darfur, where some 200,000 people have died in three years of violence. More than 2.5 million have fled their homes, many into Chad.
Mr. Taha said Khartoum would accept increased technical support for the African Union soldiers in the area of logistics and telecommunications, but only under the umbrella of the African Union.
Mr. Annan will take part in high-level talks on the Darfur crisis today in Ethiopia, aiming to stabilize the region and improve access for humanitarian workers while pressing ahead with the implementation of the political process, Reuters reported.
The Sudanese state press said yesterday the country had expelled the International Organization for Migration (IOM) from South Darfur state, accusing it of inciting the 2.5 million people in camps not to return home. IOM officials said they had not been told of the decision.
International aid organizations have accused Sudan’s army and government-backed militias known as the Janjaweed of widespread indiscriminate killing, rape and maiming of people in Darfur.
Mr. Taha rejected those accusations. “It is absolutely untrue that the government is supporting attacks made by certain parties against certain parties.”
Instead, he said, neighboring Chad was guilty of stirring up trouble by supporting anti-government rebels in Sudan.
“Chad has become part and parcel of the conflict, rather than a partner for peace,” he said.
Copyright 2006 News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of the Washington Times. This reprint does not constitute or imply any endorsement or sponsorship of any product, service, company or organization. Visit the website at www.washingtontimes.com
1. Why is the United Nations proposing to send international troops to Darfur, according to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan?
2. The Sudanese government has been refusing admittance to U.N. peacekeeping forces for several months. How did the Sudanese Vice President Ali Taha respond to this latest proposal?
3. a) What help did Mr. Taha say Sudan would accept?
b) Why do you think this is so?
4. What is the aim of talks on the Darfur crisis that Kofi Annan is participating in today in Ethiopia?
5. a) What atrocities have international aid organizations accused Sudan’s army of committing against the people of Darfur?
b) Re-read the “Background on the Darfur Genocide” above. What else has the Sudanese government done to the people of Darfur in addition to the crimes listed in question 5.a)?
6. The Sudanese government continues to deny their atrocities against black civilians as they continue to persecute and murder these citizens. What should the U.N. do to end this genocide? Be specific.
ON THE DARFUR GENOCIDE:
“The [Sudanese] government [made up of Arabs] has launched scattered attacks on local African tribes for years. But when two main Darfuri rebel groups began retaliating against government positions in February 2003, Khartoum’s leaders [intensified their campaign]… The Khartoum regime’s motives in Darfur soon became clear: Its leaders are not only Islamists but Arabists, who believe blacks-even Muslims-are ‘slaves.’ ” (From WorldMag.com.)
Since 2003, Sudanese government forces and ethnic militia called “Janjaweed”
have burned and destroyed hundreds of villages, killed and caused the deaths of possibly 200,000 people, and raped and assaulted thousands of women and girls. As of November 2006, approximately two million displaced people live in camps in Darfur and at least 218,000 people have fled to neighboring Chad, where they live in refugee camps. In addition to the people displaced by the conflict, at least 1.7 million other people need some form of food assistance because the conflict has destroyed the local economy, markets, and trade in Darfur. (For Q&A from Human Rights Watch about the crisis in Darfur, Sudan, go to their website at hrw.org.)
For additional background on the genocide in Darfur, read WorldMag.com’s April 2005 article Spectator to Genocide.
Daily “Answers” emails are provided for Daily News Articles, Tuesday’s World Events and Friday’s News Quiz.