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Last Updated: Monday, 13 August 2007, 16:43 GMT 17:43 UK
Darfur force 'to be all-African'
African Union soldiers in Darfur (file pic)
African Union soldiers already in Darfur will be joined by new troops
Africa will provide all of the 26,000 peacekeepers to be sent to Sudan's Darfur region, the head of the African Union (AU) has said.

AU chairman Alpha Oumar Konare said enough African troops had been promised for no outside help to be needed but he did not give details.

The UN had expected to call on Asian troops. Critics say Africa lacks enough trained troops for an effective force.

Sudan's government has long opposed the involvement of non-African soldiers.

It only agreed to a joint United Nations-AU force after months of negotiations.

The UN Security Council resolution setting up the force said the troops would be mostly African but they would be under UN command.

Viable plan?

UN spokesman Farhan Haq said that while there may be enough AU troops for the force, it was important to get the right mix of abilities on the ground.

"It's not simply a question of raw numbers of troops - we┐re trying to find a good mix of skills," he told the BBC News website.

"We're looking to make sure this force is robust, it's mobile, it's well-armed and equipped, so that it can carry out the full mandate that it needs to perform."

Speaking after talks in Khartoum with the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Mr Konare said: "I can confirm today that we have received sufficient commitments from African countries that we will not have to resort to non-African forces."

He added that the "ball is now in the court of the UN" to provide funding for the force.

PROMISED PEACEKEEPERS
Map
7,000 - existing AU force
1,000 - pledged by Senegal
800 - pledged by Malawi
Other pledges:
Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia and Egypt
Indonesia, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh
26,000 - total planned

Mr Bashir, who has long argued that a UN-backed force would be a violation of Sudan's sovereignty and could worsen the situation there, backed Mr Konare's plan.

"[We] support the AU force, which consolidates the efforts of the Sudanese government to ensure security, peace and stability in Darfur," he said after their meeting.

Mr Konare did not give a breakdown of the countries offering to supply more personnel, leading correspondents to question the viability of an all-African force.

BBC Africa analyst David Bamford said it was unclear where so many African troops would come from.

Senegal and Malawi have promised to send peacekeepers to Darfur, while the AU has said that Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia and Nigeria have also promised to contribute.

Hafiz Mohamed from lobby group Justice Africa said Sudan would be able to manipulate AU troops - as he said they had been doing with the 7,000 AU troops already in Darfur.

"This will affect the whole credibility of the new resolution," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

Deadline looming

Mr Konare's announcement came just days after the UN published a list of Asian countries it said had already committed troops and police officers to a Darfur force.

Displaced Sudanese woman with her son in Darfur - file photo
Some two million people have fled their homes to displacement camps
UN officials said the joint AU-UN force would be "predominantly African", but confirmed that countries including Indonesia, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh had pledged personnel.

According to a UN resolution, the composition of the force must be decided by 30 August.

At least 200,000 people are believed to have died and more than two million have been left homeless in Darfur since fighting broke out in 2003.

Sudan's Arab dominated government, and the pro-government Janjaweed militias, are accused of war crimes against the region's black African population - although the UN has stopped short of calling it genocide.

Sudan has always denied backing the Janjaweed militias and argued that the problems in Darfur were being exaggerated for political reasons.

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