Monday, July 26, 2004

Sudan warns against foreign intervention

Sudan has warned it will use force against any attempt at outside military intervention in the crisis-torn Darfur region, while rebels called for the quick arrival of foreign troops.

Ibrahim Ahmed Omar, secretary-general of the ruling National Congress (NC) party, was quoted by the official newspaper Al Anbaa as warning that force would be met by force.

"Anybody who contemplates imposing his opinion by force will be confronted by force. Any power that intervenes in Darfur will be a loser, he said."

But a Darfur rebel movement called for a rapid deployment of international troops to deal with the situation in the western Sudanese region, described by the United Nations as the world's worst current humanitarian crisis.

The US Congress has unanimously passed a resolution last week describing the atrocities committed in Darfur as genocide and called on the White House to lead international efforts to intervene.

A top British general said 5,000 troops could be made ready to go if needed.

The UN says up to 50,000 people have died since a revolt against the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum broke out among black African ethnic minorities in February 2003.

"The National Congress firmly rejects any foreign threats targeting Sudan and its people and is opposed to any foreign intervention in Sudan," Mr Omar was quoted as saying, adding that Sudan is capable of solving its problems by itself.

The official called for general mobilisation among the Sudanese people and political parties and organisations to "stand up against this unfair campaign which targets not only the National Congress and the government but all of the Sudanese people and their values."

Khartoum has brushed off criticism that it is not doing enough to help alleviate the situation in Darfur and pledged to improve the access of international aid agencies.

But Abdel Wahed Mohammed Nur, spokesman for the rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) said: "We are asking the United States, the United Nations secretary-general, the European Union and the African Union for the urgent deployment of troops in the coming days to ensure the delivery of food aid to millions of refugees."

Contacted by telephone, the spokesman said intervention would "avert a humanitarian disaster of great proportions".

Mr Nur charged that the pro-Government Arab Janjaweed militias were "preventing the arrival of food aid to displaced people and continue to violate the ceasefire, and they regularly rape defenceless women."

More than a million people have been driven from their villages in the conflict pitting government forces and Janjaweed against the SLA and another local rebel group, the Movement for Justice and Equality.

Washington, the United Nations and the EU have demanded that Khartoum immediately disarm the Janjaweed and make them respect a ceasefire signed April 8 after talks in the Chadian capital Ndjamena.

The European Union warned at the weekend that Sudan would face international sanctions if there was not quick progress in ending the bloodshed.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail on Sunday questioned the need for foreign troops in war-torn Darfur, saying his Government was doing all it could to disarm Arab militias.

"Why should we have to rush and to talk about military intervention as long as the situation is getting better?" Mr Ismail told BBC television. My Government is doing what can be done in order to disarm the militia."

Meanwhile the United Nations in neighbouring Chad said two Sudanese refugees from Darfur were shot dead in clashes with local security forces amid rising tensions with aid workers. A spokesman for the refugee agency UNHCR said that weapons caches had been found at the Abeche camp and 19 people had been arrested.

The fatal clashes on Thursday came 10 days after UN and other aid workers were forced to leave the camp of Forchana accommodating nearly 12,000 people in the east of Chad when refugees started throwing stones at them.

By In Solidarity 26 July 04


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