Security Council to authorize joint AU-UN force in Darfur

The UN Security Council was to authorize later Tuesday the deployment of a joint African Union-UN force in Darfur, as Britain threatened sanctions if the violence in the Sudanese western region did not stop.

Security Council to authorize joint AU-UN force in Darfur
The 15 council members were to meet Tuesday afternoon to endorse a revised Franco-British draft resolution mandating the 26,000-strong "hybrid" force, to be known as UNAMID, to take over peacekeeping in Darfur from 7,000 ill-equipped AU troops.

The latest version of the draft, backed by the United States, was formally put it "into blue" late Monday, meaning readied for an imminent vote.

A UN statement confirmed that the council would meet Tuesday afternoon "to take action on the Darfur resolution."

Following intense bargaining that led to many concessions from the sponsors, there is little doubt that the text, which was amended at least four times this month, will be overwhelmingly approved, perhaps unanimously, diplomats said.

In a speech at the United Nations focused on how to meet world poverty reduction goals, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown expressed hope that the draft resolution "will be adopted later today."

Speaking after talks with UN chief Ban Ki-moon, he added: "I am not prepared to let this tragedy continue without action," referring to the 200,000 people which according to UN estimates have died from the combined effect of war and famine in Darfur.

And Brown warned that "if action is not taken to end the violence, then further sanctions will be imposed. I think this is the world coming together."

Last-minute hurdles were ironed out Monday during council consultations as well as in bilateral sessions with Sudanese Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad, French deputy ambassador Jean-Pierre Lacroix said.

Veto-wielding China, a close ally of Khartoum and the council chair this month, had expressed reservations about a contentious reference to Chapter Seven of the UN Charter which gives added force to the need to comply with the resolution.

So in a bid to placate Sudan and its backers on the council, the sponsors dropped their earlier insistence on invoking Chapter Seven to authorize the hybrid force to monitor whether arms are present in Darfur in violation of UN resolutions.

But the UN-AU force is authorized to take "the necessary action" (meaning using force if necessary) under Chapter Seven to protect its personnel, ensure security and freedom of movement for humanitarian workers, prevent attacks and threats against civilians and back implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA).

Last Tuesday, the sponsors already withdrew a threat of unspecified "further measures" against Sudanese parties that would fail to fulfill their commitments.

After months of foot-dragging, Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir finally gave his consent last June for the deployment of UNAMID.

The draft stressed that that there can be no military solution in Darfur conflict and urged Khartoum and rebel groups to commit themselves to a permanent ceasefire and to join peace talks under AU-UN mediation.

An August 3-5 meeting organized jointly by the AU and the United Nations in Arusha, Tanzania, is to lay the groundwork with the non-signatory rebels for renewed negotiations with Khartoum.

Khartoum signed the DPA with Darfur rebels in Nigeria more than a year ago but only one of three negotiating rebel factions endorsed the deal.

The bulk of UNAMID, which is to be established under UN command and control procedures "for an initial period of 12 months" at an estimated cost of two billion dollars, is not expected to be deployed before early next year.

But the draft stated that "as soon as possible and no later than 31 December 2007", the joint force is to assume authority from AMIS (the current AU force in Darfur) "with a view to achieving full operational capability and force strength as soon as possible thereafter."

It called on UN member states to finalize their troop contributions to UNAMID within 30 days of the adoption of the resolution. Most of the force's foot soldiers are to come from African countries.

The Darfur conflict began in February 2003 when ethnic African tribes rebelled against what they consider decades of neglect and discrimination by the Arab-dominated Khartoum government.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 01 Ağustos 2007, 09:31