The official al-Anbaa newspaper on Sunday quoted Ibrahim Ahmad Umar, secretary general of the ruling National Congress, as saying force would be met by force.

"Anybody who contemplates imposing his opinion by force will be confronted by force," Umar said. "Any power that intervenes in Darfur will be a loser."

Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Usman Ismail also questioned the need for foreign troops in Darfur, saying his government was doing all it could to disarm militias.

"Why should we have to rush and to talk about military intervention as long as the situation is getting better?" Ismail asked. "My government is doing what can be done in order to disarm the militia."

Rebel plea

But a Darfur rebel movement called for a rapid deployment of international troops to deal with the situation in the western Sudanese region, described by the United Nations as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

"Anybody who contemplates imposing his opinion by force will be confronted by force"

Ibrahim Ahmad Umar,
S
ecretary general of the National Congress


The UN says up to 50,000 people have died since a revolt against the government in Khartoum broke out in February 2003.

"The National Congress firmly rejects any foreign threats targeting Sudan and its people and is opposed to any foreign intervention in Sudan," Umar said. He insisted Sudan was capable of solving its problem by itself.

Umar also called for general mobilisation among the Sudanese people and political parties and organisations to "stand up against this unfair campaign which targets not only the National Congress and the government but all of the Sudanese people and their values".

Another ruling party official and federal government minister Nafia Ali Nafia said Sudan "will not be a playground or a park of entertainment for foreign troops".

But Abd al-Wahid Muhammad Nur, spokesman for the rebel Sudan Liberation Army called for the speedy deployment of foreign troops.

"We are asking the United States, the United Nations secretary general, the European Union and the African Union for the urgent deployment of troops in the coming days to ensure the delivery of food aid to millions of refugees," he said.

Some say the rebels are
obstructing peace efforts

"Intervention would avert a humanitarian disaster of great proportions," Nur added.

Australia has in the meanwhile expressed willingness to contribute troops to any UN peacekeeping mission in Sudan.

"There's a good chance that we will send some troops to Sudan," Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said.

Some observers also accused the rebels in Darfur of obstructing peace efforts in the expectation that the international community will intervene.