Bashir urges chieftains to collect arms in Sudan's Darfur

  Khartoum- Sudan (PANA) -- President Omar Hassan el Bashir of Sudan announced plans by his government to involve native demonstrators in the collection of arms in the civil war-torn western Darfur region.
"Security cannot be maintained in the region unless all groups are disarmed," Bashir said Friday, nearly a fortnight after the UN Security Council warned his government to rein in the Janjaweed militia committing atrocities in Darfur within 30 days, or face international action .
Khartoum had initially angrily rejected the ultimatum issued on 30 July before accepting the world body's terms.
The Sudanese government had signed an agreement with UN secretary general Kofi Annan in Khartoum last month to create safe areas to host villagers displaced by the militia group in Darfur and lift restrictions on relief organisations seeking access to the area.
Khartoum also promised to disarm the Arab Janjaweed militia accused of committing atrocities and gross human rights abuses against Black Africans in Darfur.
Addressing a workshop on native administration in the Darfur region on Friday, President Bashir said his government will open and identify routes for nomads to follow without trespassing the areas occupied by settled peasants.
He called on native administration leaders to co-ordinate the movement of Arab nomads and settled population to protect the security and rights of each group.
   "The government will vest native administrators with powers that would enable them to carry out their duties during the current phase and the coming one", said Bashir.
He attributed the current level of insecurity in the troubled Darfur region to the absence of native administration, pointing out that local chieftains should play that role to help in resolving the escalating conflict.
   "The problem in Darfur is the concern of government before being an issue that concerns world public opinion or institutions at local and federal levels," Bashir told participants at the workshop expected to recommend urgent measures to prevent the situation from deteriorating further.
The workshop is expected to advise the government on how to approach the envisaged political dialogue with two rebel movements that revolted against what they regarded as marginalisation and neglect of their impoverished area by successive governments in Khartoum.
   The African Union announced last week that it would send a peacekeeping force of between 1,600 and 1,800 troops to Darfur to speed up the delivery of humanitarian aid and to check repeated violations of the 8 April cease-fire agreement.
However, the Sudanese government has ruled out the need for an African peacekeeping force in the troubled area.
   The government also rejected suggestions to increase the number of AU cease-fire monitors, saying the it was the role of the Sudanese army to maintain security in the area.
Khartoum claimed that a team of about 100 AU cease-fire monitors was enough to ensure stability in Darfur.
The conflict in Darfur, which erupted in February 2003, has reportedly killed about 50,000 people, internally displaced over 1.
2 million, while over 150,000 others have fled into neighbouring Chad.

14 august 2004 09:38:00

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