Sudan defends record in Darfur

Omar al-Bashir, the president, accuses Western media of exaggerating death toll.

    Al-Bashir reiterated his rejection of UN
    peacekeepers in Darfur [EPA]

    Experts say an estimated 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million driven from their homes in Darfur since 2003.   

     

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    "There's a discourse in Western media about the number of people killed in these events, and a lot of organisations and the American media refer to imaginary numbers, up to 400,000 dead. All these are false," al-Bashir said, later adding that the actual number was closer to 9,000 dead.

       

    He dismissed claims of ethnic cleansing in Darfur. "Talk of Arabs killing blacks is a lie. The government of Sudan is a government of blacks, with all different ethnic backgrounds ... We're all Africans, we're all black."

     

    Al-Bashir reiterated his rejection of Security Council resolution 1706, which calls for the deployment of some 22,500 UN peacekeepers and police to take over the African Union mission in Darfur, saying it would effectively place Sudan under UN control.

       

    He said Sudan would hold "free and fair" elections in 2008 and 2009, monitored by regional and international bodies.

       

    The International Criminal Court is due to name the first suspects accused of committing war crimes in Darfur next Tuesday.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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