- Sudanese leader, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, has invited his opposing armed groups to hold frank dialogue with the government so that the country could attain peace, security and development.
President al-Bashir's invitation was contained in his address to the nation on the occasion of the Eid-ul-adha [an annual sacrificial feast celebrated by Muslims].
He said there cannot be development in the absence of peace, but that dialogue led to the attainment of peace.
Sudanese leader assured his government's commitment to a unilateral cease fire in the country's troubled Western Darfur region.
But the arrest of Hamad Hassan Mohamed, an AU cease fire representative of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) by Sudanese intelligence agents on 15 December has doubled suspicions between the movement and the government. It is therefore obvious that JEM will not heed to al-Bashir's message.
The Commander of the African Union Mission in Sudan, Rudolph Adada, also asked all parties to the more than four-year Darfur conflict - including the government - to end hostilities ahead of the deployment of the joint AU-UN peacekeeping force in the region.
Adada believed that cessation of hostilities would help create an environment conducive to the success of the peace process between the government and the armed rebels.
After several protests and diplomatic scuffles, Sudanese government has finally accepted the deployment of international peacekeepers and also completed preparations for their deployment.
A group of 35 nongovernmental organisations released a report, warning against Sudan\'s obstruction and the lack of critical support from participating states, which limits the size of the AU-UN hybrid force.
The report, among others, accused Khartoum of delaying allocation of land and resources for bases and refused to formally agree to the list of proposed troop contributions. It has rejected troops from Nepal, Thailand and Scandinavia – critical units for which there are currently no alternatives.
Sudan is also accused of attempting to hamstring the force once it is deployed by inserting completely unacceptable conditions into the “status of forces agreement” which includes the right to suspend UNAMID’s communications network in case of government “security operations.”
Its refusal to provide authorization for night flights has also concerned the authors of the report.
“Sudan is saying ‘yes’ and then doing everything in its power to obstruct and undermine the hybrid force,” said Steve Crawshaw, UN Advocacy Director at Human Rights Watch. “The Security Council has responded to this defiance with hand-wringing but nothing more. What will it take to make the Security Council act on Darfur?”
The organisations called on the UN Security Council to set out exactly what the Sudanese government needs to do to facilitate the force and impose sanctions on Sudanese officials should they fail to comply within 30 days.
UN member states have been asked to urgently provide needed helicopters and transport units for the hybrid force.
“It’s intolerable that the government of Sudan is trying to obstruct the force,” said Amjad Atallah of the Save Darfur Coalition. “But it’s also inexcusable that the international community continues to stubbornly refuse to provide the helicopters UNAMID so desperately needs.”
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