Sudan: Rebels too should disarm

The Sudanese government is keeping up its demand for rebels in Darfur to be disarmed alongside the Janjawid, while peace talks resume in Nigeria.

    Sudan has said it reserves the right to approve foreign troops

    Foreign Minister Mustafa Uthman Ismail strongly criticised what he called the double standards of the international community in demanding the immediate disarmament of the Janjawid but not putting the same pressure on the rebels, according to Khartoum press on Saturday.

    "The two rebel movements were moving around with their weapons among civilians," the Al-Akhbar Al-Youm daily quoted the minister as saying. 


    Ismail said that both the African Union's resolution on the Darfur crisis and the abortive ceasefire agreement reached in Chad in April required "cantonment" of the rebels concurrently with disarmament of the Janjawid.


    "But the rebels did not adhere to this condition," the minister said.


    Ismail, noting that the Janjawid say they are only defending themselves against rebel attacks in the region, said, "How can we disarm the Janjawid when the rebels are still holding on to their weapons?"


    A UN report says Khartoum has
    failed to disarm the Janjawid

    Rebels have constantly been threatening to walk out of talks if "cantonment" was mentioned. They also insist the term be removed from the agenda when talks began.


    On the third day of talks, AU members were trying to convince rebel leaders to discuss the issue of disarmament again.

    In response, international commissioner for the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), Harun Abd al-Hamid, said, "We insist that this point be taken off the agenda".


    Move opposed

    The Security Council has received a report by UN envoy Jan Pronk saying that Khartoum had not complied with its obligations to disarm the Janjawid.


    Ismail took issue with that assessment, saying "the government has already begun disarming" the Janjawid after successful negotiations.

    In an interview with state television on Saturday, Ismail renewed Khartoum's opposition to the deployment of any additional foreign troops to Darfur without its consent.


    "We insist that this point(cantonment) be taken off the agenda"

    Harun Abd al-Hamid, international commissioner for the rebel Justice and Equality Movement

    He said Khartoum reserved the right to approve each troop-contributing country and even the identity of individual monitors.


    He also reiterated Sudan's opposition to any move to convert the African Union protection force currently charged with assuring ceasefire monitors' security, into a full-blown peacekeeping force.


    His comments came as Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo pledged the African bloc would send more troops to Darfur if requested to do so.


    "It will demand from the government more security measures," Ismail said regarding the UN report, referring in particular to greater protection for the 1.2 million plus people estimated to have been displaced from their homes by rebels and the Janjawid in the region.

    Khartoum has constantly stated that the Janjawid are "outlaws" and has denied supporting or arming them.



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