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Sudan strikes defiant tone as U.N. chief sounds alarm

Sudan strikes defiant tone as U.N. chief sounds alarm

Darfur is creeping ever closer to catastrophe, with rape and violence on the rise, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a report Thursday, as Sudan warned that any nation offering troops for a future peacekeeping force on its territory would be committing a "hostile act."
In the report to the Security Council, Annan said a May peace deal was not being followed, and that humanitarian access is at its lowest level since 2004. Sudan's armed forces, as well as rebel factions and the militias, continue to violate international human rights law and humanitarian law with impunity, he said.
A key stumbling block to the peace so far has been Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir's rejection of an August Security Council resolution that would allow the United Nations to take control of and significantly expand a peacekeeping force in Darfur, run so far by the African Union.
In a letter sent to several nations on Tuesday but disclosed Thursday, al-Bashir's government took aim at any country that might be considering troops for a potential force. The Sudan government criticized a September 22 note sent by the U.N. asking nations to nominate police personnel who would be sent to Sudan to support the African Union mission.
"In the absence of Sudan's consent to the deployment of U.N. troops, any volunteering to provide peacekeeping troops to Darfur will be considered as a hostile act, a prelude to an invasion of a member country of the U.N.," the letter said.
That response was puzzling because the September 22 note makes clear the police would be sent to support the African Union mission, not as a separate force.
The sharp words in the letter prompted the U.S. to convene an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to consider a response. U.S. Ambassador John Bolton called the document an unprecedented rebuff to the council.
"This is a direct challenge to the authority of the Security Council in its efforts to alleviate the tragedy in Darfur and clearly requires a strong response by the Security Council," Bolton said.
He warned that people should ask if "other possibilities are going to have to be pursued" if the U.N. cannot address the Sudan issue effectively, though he did not specify or go as far as U.S. President George W. Bush, who said earlier this week that the United Nations should not wait any longer to approve a force for Darfur.
The council broke in the afternoon, and Japan's ambassador, the U.N. Security Council president for October, said he would approach Sudanese officials for clarification.
The U.S. later circulated a draft presidential statement that would deplore and express regret about Sudan's attempts to "intimidate" potential troop contributors, and call the letter an "aggressive gesture."
It was unclear how willing other nations will be to support the U.S. draft. Several diplomats clearly did not share his outrage. One Security Council diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because discussions on the issue were private, said the council must not allow Sudan to lure it into a confrontation. The focus must be concentrated on getting troops into Sudan, the diplomat said.


Updated : 2021-05-10 05:03 GMT+08:00