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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 August, 2004, 16:58 GMT 17:58 UK
Sudan: The suffering continues

In a HARDtalk interview on 4th August, Tim Sebastian talks to Ahmed Diraige, a former governor of Darfur, who now heads the Sudan Federal Democratic Alliance. Can his group make a difference for the people of Sudan?


While the United Nations continues to deliberate over how to act in Sudan, HARDtalk speaks to former governor of Darfur, Ahmed Diraige.

While the eyes of the world were on Baghdad in March last year, another conflict was brewing - in Darfur, Sudan. The horrific consequences are only now becoming apparent.

The US Congress has passed legislation condemning the actions in Darfur as genocide. At the end of July, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution giving the Khartoum government one month to turn things around.

African Union

The UN is still considering how best to respond to Sudan's plight if the government does not cooperate.

there were grievances in Darfur that urged people to take arms
Ahmed Diraige

The two main options are the deployment of peacekeeping troops, or sanctions. Those wary of western intervention argue that the African Union should provide ground forces.

But Ahmed Diraige was sceptical about whether the African Union could play an effective role in Sudan.

He said that the African Union has neither the "financial ability" nor "the logistical ability" to handle the crisis.

He added: "This is the problem the African Union is now facing in Sudan, they have sent only about 300 soldiers to monitor 1 million square miles: it's pathetic, they are not able to do it because their incomes are not comparable, they cannot pay for it."

Rebels

While the humanitarian disaster in Darfur is being blamed on the government and its militias, non-governmental organisations have also accused rebel groups in Darfur of some human rights violations.

The main rebel groups in Darfur are the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) and the Movement for Justice and Equality (JEM).

We are going to hold a conference for our movement to solve this problem
Ahmed Diraige

Ahmed Diraige said that his Federal Democratic Alliance is political and "not fighting on the ground in Darfur".

He said: "I feel there were grievances in Darfur that urged people to take arms, that's why I excused them."

Responding to allegations that the co-founder of his movement had formed an alliance with the SLA, Diraige said: "We are going to hold a conference for our movement to solve this problem".

Of the rebel groups' involvement in human rights abuse he said: "I don't think they have carried out human rights abuse .... if they did that I will condemn them ...they came to protect people from the government".

HARDtalk can be seen on BBC World at 03:30 GMT, 08:30 GMT, 11:30 GMT, 15:30 GMT, 18:30 GMT and 23:30 GMT

It can also be seen on BBC News 24 at 04:30 and 23:30

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