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Khartoum Rejects UN Force After South’s Independence

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Sudan’s U.N. ambassador told the U.N. Secretary-General and the Security Council Tuesday that his government does not want to see an extension of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in his country after the south declares independence on July 9. The north’s confirmation comes amid an escalation in fighting between the two sides in the disputed Abyei region.

Sudan’s Ambassador Daffa-Alla Ali Osman told the Security Council that once the transitional period ends on July 9th, Khartoum does not see the need for the 10,400-strong U.N. peacekeeping force to remain. Ambassador Osman said he gave a letter to U.N. Chief Ban Ki-moon Tuesday morning with Khartoum’s decision.

“Any attempts to justify the continuation of the mission, such as the issue of pending issues, would not be right," said Osman. "The settlement of the so-called ‘pending issues’ would be at the negotiating table, serious negotiations between the two parties.”

In addition to Abyei, those pending issues include where the border will be drawn between the two states, how to share oil resources and Sudan’s $38-billion debt.

Lol Gat Kouth, who represents South Sudan at the United Nations and in the United States, said the new state would welcome a U.N. mission in order to avoid a security vacuum, particularly along the 2,100 kilometer border.

“Our goal is to see peaceful co-existence between the two neighboring states of Sudan and South Sudan. Recent events have demonstrated how great a challenge this will be, and that continued third party support will be critical if this is to be achieved," said Kouth.

The two envoys each traded blame over the escalation in recent weeks in Abyei, where there have been deadly clashes between the two sides. Khartoum says it will not withdraw its forces from Abyei until there is a political and security agreement in place. The south, and members of the international community, have demanded it pull its forces out immediately.

Ethiopia has offered to send peacekeepers to help monitor the volatile border area. The southern envoy welcomed the proposal, while Khartoum’s ambassador was non-committal, saying his government is contemplating many such initiatives.

Article by Magaret Besheer, VOA News