By: Al Sammani Awadallah / IOL
Sudan Permanent Representative to UN, Ambassador Abdel Mahmoud Abdel Halim, in a press statement yesterday said that the African Union commission report which Sudan has obtained and which will be presented to the AU upcoming Peace and Security Council Summit in Abuja has proposed considering a six month extension of AU forces in Darfur.He said this would depend if the Sudanese government has positively responded to the Addis Ababa meeting. Abdel Halim added that Sudan has some reservations on the Addis Ababa meeting in which the UN proposal was presented, but according to the ambassador, Sudan will be committed to the report of the African Union Forces Commander in Darfur in which he proposes that he needs only brigades while Kofi Annan talked about 17,000 troops. The ambassador pointed out that the forces commander report can be used as a mechanism for specifying the number of troops, especially that the Addis Ababa agreement has assigned the security and military aspects to these forces. Abdel Halim further stated that the UNSC resolution 1706 was serious and destructive, adding that Sudan will participate in the Abuja Summit with an open heart and mind as well as it will react positively with the meeting of AU Peace and Security council so that the outcome of those discussions be positive. The Ambassador revealed that President Al Bashir contacted UN Secretary General Kofi Annan by telephone and informed him on Sudan's position on the differed over points affirming that Sudan will hand over its response on these points. Ambassador Abdel Halim said the AU Peace and Security Council summit comes within the context of the continued diplomatic moves aimed at enlightening the international community on the defects of the resolution 1706. According to the Ambassador, the international community has now become aware of the need for finding an alternative to that resolution. Meanwhile, Salim Ahmed Salim said that it is inconceivable for Africa to quit Darfur, it would be tantamount to leaving a part of itself sink into oblivion. "Africa cannot afford to leave because if it does, it will have huge consequences on Sudan and what will happen in Sudan will also affect neighbouring countries," he added. Salim arrived in Khartoum this week in a bid to find a political solution to the nearly four-year-old conflict amid ever-growing international pressure on Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir's regime. After failing to impose the replacement of AU observers with UN peacekeepers, the West has been pushing for a 'hybrid force' but Bashir has so far stuck to his guns and rejected any UN military presence on his soil. "Why does the international community not mobilise to give the AU sufficient means to achieve the goals of its mission?" Salim complained. The embattled Darfur contingent is the first foreign peacekeeping operation conducted by the African body and Salim said he believed its mandate would be extended beyond its current December 31 deadline. "If you have a credible force, it will bolster the implementation of the peace agreement," said the official, in reference to the May peace deal of which he was one of the main architects.