Khartoum aims to stop UN peacekeepers going to Darfur - rebel
( RIA Novosti ) - Sudan's government is using all means to try to drag out the deployment of a UN peacekeeping contingent to the country's western province of Darfur, a resistance movement leader said on Thursday.
"Khartoum is attempting to hinder the process of the deployment of UN peacekeepers in Darfur by carrying out attacks on the African contingent and then portraying them as the aggressive actions of rebels," Abdul Waheed Al-Nur, living in France, told UAE-based newspaper Al Bayan.
Al-Nur said he regrets last week's incident in the African peacekeepers' camp when ten soldiers were killed and several dozen wounded.
"The Sudanese government and detachments of Janjaweed launched this attack as a 'message' to the international community to abstain from sending its soldiers to Darfur," he said.
"However, Darfur residents and rebel movements support the deployment of a foreign contingent to protect civilians, and will actively cooperate with investigators to clear up the circumstances of this shameful incident," he said.
Al-Nur, who is considered one of the most influential Darfur rebel leaders, denied any possibility of his participation in peace talks with the Sudanese government, to be held in Libya in late October on the initiative of the UN and the African Union.
About 7,000 peacekeepers from the 26-nation African Union are currently posted in the war-torn region, but they will be replaced with 26,000-strong joint units of the African Union and the UN by the end of the year.
Previously, Sudan had refused to accept a UN peacekeeping contingent. But the country changed its position after a tour of Africa by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who also secured an agreement to hold peace talks on Darfur in Libya on October 27.
In March 2007, the UN accused Sudan's government of orchestrating and taking part in "gross violations" in Darfur, and called for urgent international action to protect civilians.
Since the conflict began in February 2003, ethnic violence has taken the lives of at least 200,000 people, mostly among black African farmers, from which rebel groups fighting the central government in Khartoum draw their numbers, the UN says.
Armed militias known as "Janjaweed," which the Sudanese government denies supporting and who continue to attack civilians, are largely nomadic Arabs, and have been involved in violent battles with farmers over land ownership.