www.xinhuanet.com
XINHUA online
CHINA VIEW
VIEW CHINA
 Breaking News Sri Lankan death toll rises to 12,520    Some 5,000 people killed in Indonesia: Officials     Urgent: Myanmar confirms 51 killed by tsunami     URGENT: Apartment blast kills at least 10 in France     CAR BOMB TARGETING SHI'ITE POLITICAL LEADER IN BAGHDAD KILLS FIVE,    Israel releases 159 Palestinian prisoners    
Home  
China  
World  
Business  
Technology  
Opinion  
Culture/Edu  
Sports  
Entertainment  
Metrolife  
Travel  
Weather  
  About China
  Map
  History
  Constitution
  CPC & Other Parties
  State Organs
  Local Leadership
  White Papers
  Statistics
  Major Projects
  English Websites
  BizChina
- Conferences & Exhibitions
- Investment
- Bidding
- Enterprises
- Policy update
- Technological & Economic Development Zones
Source Manufacturers and Suppliers from China and around the world
   News Photos Voice People BizChina Feature About us   
African Union under test in Darfur crisis
www.chinaview.cn 2004-12-28 15:42:41

    by Lin Xiaochu, Dai Adi     

    LAGOS, Dec. 28 (Xinhuanet) -- The African Union, the 53-member bloc of the impoverished continent bugged by violence and conflict for decades, is struggling to find an African solution to the crisis in Sudan's troubled Darfur region.

    The African Union is trying to demonstrate that Africans can solve their own problems and prove itself to be an effective regional body that can be counted on.

    But what has happened during the past year, especially the collapse of the latest round of talks between rebels from Darfur and Khartoum in Nigerian capital Abuja on Dec. 21, shows how difficult it is to end the Darfur crisis, and puts the toughest test ahead of the bloc.

    The African Union at first brought the Sudanese government and the rebel groups, the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudanese Liberation Army/Movement, together in April in Chadian capital N'djamena, successfully pressing them to agree on a ceasefire, which was strengthened in November with the two sides signing another two protocols on security and humanitarian aid in Abuja.

    Under the bloc's auspices, Khartoum and the rebel groups also held several rounds of peace talks in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and Abuja separately, but all ended without breakthrough, asboth sides accusing each other of violating the ceasefire agreement and protocols.

    The situation puts the African Union, especially its troops stationed in the region in western Sudan in apparent jeopardy.

    Last Thursday, Khalil Ibrahim, the leader of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), told reporters it would only accept the United Nations as principal mediator in any peace talks and wanted UN troops stationed in Darfur. The other rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/M), said it was also very unhappy with the African Union.

    Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan commented: "Our approach is not working ... the situation (in Darfur) is deteriorating ... the African Union has not been able to put in as many forces as we had hoped."

    Around 900 African Union troops are on ground in Darfur, although more than 3,000 have been pledged. They are authorized to determine whether or not the government and the rebel groups are abiding by the ceasefire, but cannot arrest anyone or intervene in the fighting in any way.

    Critics call for speedy troops deployment with a stronger mandate so that they can better protect civilians and play a bigger role in stopping the conflict.

    "This mandate and protection are needed now, more than ever, as the fighting and civilian deaths continue to climb," said the Human Rights Watch, a US-based human rights group, in a letter to Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who heads the African Union.

    But even if this happens, problems remain. One of them is the force's size, as covering a region the size of France by 3,000 troops without enough military vehicles or helicopters would be a joke. In contrast, 15,000 UN peacekeepers patrol the much smaller,once equally chaotic, Liberia in west Africa.

    Things became more complicated when the United States imposed an asset freeze on senior Sudanese officials and called for a travel ban for those officials last Thursday. Media reports said on Sunday that British Prime Minister Tony Blair had ordered military chiefs to prepare to deploy up to 3,000 troops to Darfur.

    In the face of such pressure from the West, the African Union troops and Khartoum have to be more swift to show its resolves in settling the Darfur crisis.

    The world is eyeing the pan-African body, which is making efforts to bring back Khartoum and the two rebel groups to the negotiating table in Abuja in January, as the African Union hopes to pass its first real test to peace and security on the continent.

    "If the African Union fails, the Darfur people will suffer, theworld will also suffer," noted Nigerian President Obasanjo on his recent US trip.

    Darfur has been embroiled in conflict since February 2003 when the rebel groups took up arms against Khartoum, demanding autonomy.

    The conflict has so far caused thousands of deaths and sent over a million fleeing to neighboring Chad or internally displaced.

Enditem¡¡

  Related Story
Copyright ©2003 Xinhua News Agency. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.