UN Security Council renews Darfur force mandate

New York- UN (PANA) -- With the US abstaining, the UN Security Council has voted to extend by one year the mandate of the UN-African Union (AU) Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), which expired Thursday.
The UN PANA Correspondent reports that 14 members of the 15-member council voted in favour of a UK-sponsored resolution endorsing the extension.
In the resolution, the council said it considered AU's 21 July communique as wel l as its concerns regarding potential developments subsequent to International C r iminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo's indictment of Sudanese Presid e nt Omar Hassan El-Bashir.
It called on member states "to pledge and contribute helicopters, aerial reconna issance, ground transport, engineering and logistical units and other force enab l ers required''.
It also underlined the "importance of raising the capability of those UNAMID bat talions formerly deployed by the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) and other incoming battalions''.
The council further welcomed UN chief, Ban Ki-moon's call for the deployment of 80 per cent of the hybrid mission by the end of this year, and urged the Sudanes e government, troop contributors and all other stakeholders "to do all they can to facilitate this''.
In a resolution adopted in July last year, the Security Council authorised the d eployment of up to 26,000 troops in Darfur, under the command of Nigeria's Lt.
-G e n.
Martin Agwai.
But as of 31 May this year, the mission had only a total of 9,563 uniformed pers onnel, whose capabilities were limited due to the shortage of helicopters and ot h er back-up resources.
It will be recalled that following an emergency meeting 21 July in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, the AU issued a communique urging the UN Security Council to suspend the ICC's indictment of El-Bashir.
South Africa and Libya had proposed an amendment calling for the suspension of t he ICC indictment for one year, a move that has divided the council members but o pposed by some Western nations, including the US and France.
Meanwhile, in a statement after the vote, US Deputy Ambassador Alejandro Wolff s aid Washington supported UNAMID's mandate extension but abstained from the vote " because language added to the resolution would send the wrong signal to Presiden t El-Bashir and undermine efforts to bring him and others to justice''.
Also, UK's UN Ambassador John Sawers said that he was against considering the IC C issue as part of the UNAMID mandate.
"With the resolution, the Security Council has made no promise of taking any act ion on the ICC's indictment of El-Bashir,'' Sawers told UN reporters.
PANA reports that some council members, including Vietnam, South Africa, Libya, China and Russia, expressed concern about the ICC indictment's potential negativ e impact on the Darfur peace process.
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said it was "unfortunate'' that the council di d not act on the ICC move because of "resistance by a number of Security Council members''.
He warned that the position taken by these council members could lead to "unfore seen negative consequences'' and that "the responsibility lies fully on their sh o ulders''.
On 14 July, ICC's prosecutor formally requested that an arrest warrant be issued against El-Bashir on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in the western Sudanese region of Darfur.
Under Article 16 of the ICC statute, the 15-member body can pass a resolution to defer an ICC investigation or prosecution for a period of 12 months.
However, such a resolution can subsequently be renewed.
PANA reports that Sudan, which vehemently opposes the ICC action, has garnered s upport from major international bodies including the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the Arab League and the Non-Aligned Movement.

03 august 2008 18:58:00

xhtml CSS