AU faces opposition over new mandate for Darfur troops

Kampala- Uganda (PANA) -- The African Union (AU) is facing a strong opposition ahead of a special Peace and Security Council (PSC) meeting here Wednesday to renew the mandate of the UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).
International civil society organizations represented at the several pre-AU Summit meetings in Uganda said they would oppose plans to renew the mandate of the mission for another year unless the mandate was changed.
Those opposed to the renewal of UNAMID's mandate as it is said the force has not been able to protect the Darfurians.
However, AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping’s Spokesperson, Noureddine Mezni, told PANA here that the opposition to the renewal of the mandate would not stop the decision-making process.
''We welcome the role of the civil society.
But in this case, they will not stop the decision-making process.
The PSC has met twice on the issue of Darfur and they have contributed positively to the improvement of the situation, including contributions to the Doha peace process,'' Mezni said.
A Chadian diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the mandate of the UNAMID was weak and needed a review.
But he declined to state whether Chad would push for a review of that mandate.
Mezni said the formation of the force was carefully worked out because of the Sudanese government's opposition to a UN peacekeeping mission.
He said the force was operating under special circumstances that required the understanding of its critics.
But a senior Oxfam official countered: ''The question is what have you (UNAMID) been doing with the mandate for the past year in order to request for another mandate of one year? You cannot have a peacekeeping force that cannot respond even when stones are being thrown at them.
'' Oxfam is due to release a new performance evaluation report on UNAMID.
The International organization said there were concerns about lapses in the peacekeeping operation in Darfur.
A Sudanese diplomat, Bona Malwal Akuei, said the main problem facing the Darfur force was the lack of technical equipment to enable it tackle the security situation in Darfur.
''Our appeal is to the international community and those countries with the military equipment, including the tactical helicopters, to provide it to the force,'' the Sudanese diplomat said, adding that there was no substitute for UNAMID in Darfur.
Despite the opposition to the renewal of the mandate, the PSC, which comprises 15 African countries, including Chad, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Libya, is expected to easily renew the mandate of UNAMID, which expires this month, when the council meets Wednesday (21July).
This will pave the way for the UN Security Council to also renew the mandate of the force.

21 july 2010 09:05:00

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