Konare affirms AU force's neutrality in Darfur

Abuja- Nigeria (PANA) -- The Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Alpha Oumar Konare, affirmed Monday that the AU force deployed to Sudan's troubled western region of Darfur would be a neutral umpire in the crisis.
   "The force is neither for hire nor will it play second fiddle role or serve as anybody's alibi," Konare said at the opening of the Sudan peace talks in the Nigerian capital Abuja.
   The former Malian President also assured that the African troops, sent to protect the AU ceasefire monitors, would carry out their assignment "dutifully with equity, fairness and justice in mind for the overall good of the people of Sudan and the entire continent.
"   He explained that the onus of providing security for the people of Sudan still rested with the Khartoum government.
   "The (AU) Mission is there to ensure that things did not get worse than they are already," Konare stressed.
   The AU is deploying an initial 300 troops from Rwanda, Nigeria and Tanzania.
   The AU chief urged the warring parties in Darfur to realise settlement could only come through negotiation and dialogue.
   "The situation needs a political solution and not a military solution," he said, maintaining that the position of AU "remains a negotiated solution.
"   Africa, Konare stressed, has the capacity to resolve the Darfur crisis.
   "All we need do is to have confidence in ourselves and build on it," he said, adding that the Abuja meeting would only be a success "by listening to all sides, government, rebels and civil society.
"   "We must begin serious discussions, I repeat, serious discussions, because peace in Sudan is important to control the humanitarian crisis taking place in Darfur.
    "Peace is a process that we need to build and nurture with patience.
Rebel movements and leaders also have a stake in this process," Konare added.

23 august 2004 15:12:00




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