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SUDAN PLANS A BID TO STOP U.N. TROOPS -RIGHTS GROUP

By Michelle Nichols Fri Aug 18, 5:37 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sudan's plan to send 10,500 new government troops to its Darfur region would violate a peace deal and is just a bid by Khartoum to stop the deployment of U.N. peacekeepers, a rights watchdog said on Friday.

Human Rights Watch said it had obtained a copy of the plan by Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who is opposed to a U.N. force taking over from the under-financed African Union troops that have been the only bulwark against violence in Darfur.

Britain and the United States introduced a Security Council resolution on Thursday to send some 17,000 U.N. peacekeepers to Darfur, where more than 2.5 million people have been made homeless since 2003 by a campaign of ethnic cleansing.

"The Sudanese government's plan is a recipe for inflicting even more abuses on a devastated civilian population," said Peter Takirambudde, Africa director at the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch.

"Khartoum wants the U.N. to endorse a plan that would throw out the Darfur peace agreement. It wouldn't help protect civilians from constant attack or make it safe enough for them to return home."

The May peace deal was signed by only one of three negotiating rebel factions and rejected by tens of thousands of people in Sudan's vast west.

Then in July Darfur saw the bloodiest month for the world's largest aid operation since the conflict began with eight humanitarian workers killed and access to the 3.6 million people dependent on aid is at its lowest ever level.

"This Sudanese plan is just the latest maneuver to prevent a U.N. force from helping protect civilians in Darfur," Takirambudde said.

The U.S. and British Security Council resolution, which asks for U.N. reinforcements to be sent no later than October 1, can be adopted without consent from Sudan but in practice troops cannot be deployed until Khartoum agrees.

Tens of thousands of people have died since fighting flared more than 3 1/2 years ago and millions are living in squalid camps in Sudan's arid west or neighboring Chad.

In response to a rebel uprising, the Arab-dominated central government in Khartoum armed so-called Janjaweed militias, who conducted a campaign of murder, looting and rape. In recent months, in-fighting among the rebels has resulted in similar atrocities against civilians.

 

Copyright Š 2005-2009 by Rev. Dr. Ricardo E. Nuņez.  All Rights Reserved.

 

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