Abuja- Nigeria (PANA) -- Three days after the Sudanese government and the main rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) signed a peace accord in Abuja, the Force Commander of the African Union (AU) Mission (AMIS) in Darfur, Major General Collins Ihekire, has called for the deployment of UN forces in the troubled western Sudan region.
Speaking in Abuja Monday, the Nigerian army General also urged the two smaller Darfur rebel groups - Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and an SLM faction - to sign the AU-brokered peace deal "and let peace reign.
" Justifying his call for the Blue Berets, he said: "If Liberia has 15,000 (troops) and we have a Darfur that is three times the size of Liberia, that is why we are calling on the international community to note this - expand the current force by bringing UN troops.
" Under the Abuja peace accord, the 7,000-strong AMIS has been saddled with the responsibility of disarming all illegal combatants in the three-year Darfur conflict that has killed 200,000 people and displaced two million others.
Ihekire said AMIS needed the support of the UN troops as the AU mission gears towards the crucial disarming, encamping and demobilising of the rebel fighters.
On the possibility of the rebel factions that failed to sign the pact fomenting trouble in the region, he said: "As far as we are concerned, in as much the majority has signed and ordinary Darfurians are ok with it, we are watching for those who will want war and a continuous fight.
" The parties yet to sign the peace pact have up to 15 May to do so.
The AU force in Darfur is under-funded and lacks logistics, but the Sudanese government had opposed the deployment of a UN force in the region without a peace pact with the rebels.
Meanwhile, the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appealed to the Sudanese government to allow a UN assessment team into the country ahead of a possible deployment of UN peace keepers there.
US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is expected to address the UN Security Council Tuesday as part of efforts to speed the passing of a resolution approving the deployment.