- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sudan’s vice president yesterday rejected a U.N. proposal to send international troops to Darfur as a threat to his country’s sovereignty, and accused the United States of undermining the Khartoum government.

“The U.S. is trying to impose its control in Africa, especially because of the oil resources in Africa,” Ali Osman Mohammed Taha said.

He said Washington had put pressure on Sudan “to change the regime and inciting the neighbors of Sudan to change the regime.”

“This has always been the strategic policy of the U.S. regarding Sudan.”

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, however, said in Nairobi, Kenya, yesterday that he still held out hope that U.N. forces could help stabilize western Sudan, perhaps by controlling the region near the country’s border with Chad.

“We are looking at the possibility of putting U.N. observers or some sort of international presence on the border and working with Chad’s government to ensure refugees there are protected and cross-border attacks are minimized,” Reuters news agency quoted Mr. Annan as saying.

Speaking in an international televised conference, Mr. Taha said his country would only welcome an expanded role for African Union forces as his government worked on a political solution to the conflict.

“We do not accept international troops and the leadership of the U.N.,” Mr. Taha said. “The international troops and international mandate is something that we do reject as undermining Sudanese sovereignty.”

The African Union has 7,000 troops in Darfur, where some 200,000 people have died in three years of violence. More than 2.5 million have fled their homes, many into Chad.

Mr. Taha said Khartoum would accept increased technical support for the African Union soldiers in the area of logistics and telecommunications, but only under the umbrella of the African Union.

Mr. Annan will take part in high-level talks on the Darfur crisis today in Ethiopia, aiming to stabilize the region and improve access for humanitarian workers while pressing ahead with the implementation of the political process, Reuters reported.

The Sudanese state press said yesterday the country had expelled the International Organization for Migration (IOM) from South Darfur state, accusing it of inciting the 2.5 million people in camps not to return home. IOM officials said they had not been told of the decision.

International aid organizations have accused Sudan’s army and government-backed militias known as the Janjaweed of widespread indiscriminate killing, rape and maiming of people in Darfur.

Mr. Taha rejected those accusations. “It is absolutely untrue that the government is supporting attacks made by certain parties against certain parties.”

Instead, he said, neighboring Chad was guilty of stirring up trouble by supporting anti-government rebels in Sudan.

“Chad has become part and parcel of the conflict, rather than a partner for peace,” he said.

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