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'No need for non-African troops' for Darfur

  • Story Highlights
  • Pledges of 11,000-12,000 troops for peacekeeping in Darfur have been made
  • The goal of the joint U.N.-African Union mission is to end four years of violence
  • Darfur rebels say the AU troops currently there haven't been effective
  • U.N. officials say Western nations need to contribute logistics and air support
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KHARTOUM, Sudan (Reuters) -- African nations have confirmed pledges of 11,000-12,000 troops for Darfur's joint U.N.-African Union mission so far, the state-owned Sudanese Media Centre quoted Sudan's ambassador to the United Nations as saying.

On Sunday, AU Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare said Africans had pledged enough troops and there was no need for infantry from non-African countries, comments which angered Darfur rebels who say AU troops currently in Darfur have been unable to stem the violence.

"African pledges to participate (in the force) have reached 13-14 battalions, which is equivalent to 11,000-12,000 troops," SMC quoted Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad as saying.

A senior U.N. peacekeeping official earlier this month said mostly African nations had pledged infantry but key logistics and air support was lacking.

Analysts say much of this support needs to come from Western nations, which have yet to give any firm pledges of military personnel.

The U.N. Security Council last month authorized up to 19,555 military personnel and 6,432 civilian police, which would be the world's largest peacekeeping force.

The agreement came after lengthy negotiations with Sudan, in part over the composition of any force sent into its western region to try to end four years of conflict.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the African pledges, his spokeswoman Michele Montas said in New York.

"However, we still need specialized units, particularly in terms of technology, communications, transportation and these can be provided by other countries ... and they are not all of them African," Montas said.

Rwanda, Nigeria and Senegal have all said they will increase their troops already on the ground.

"The AU has also received confirmation for troops from Ethiopia, Egypt, Mauritania, Congo Brazzaville, Burkina Faso and Malawi," Mahmoud Kane, head of the AU Darfur Integrated Task Force, said from AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

"An informal discussion is also under way with Tanzania, Djibouti and Uganda for troop contribution for Darfur," he said, adding there were more infantry troops pledged than were needed.

But a U.N. peacekeeping official said the numbers were not as important as the capabilities of the troops.

"Initial numbers never end up being the final numbers," the U.N. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

He also added the countries may offer battalions which are not as fully equipped or mechanized as required by the U.N. peacekeeping department, referring to the importance of the logistical and air support, which was still lacking.

Montas said final decisions had not been made yet and that Western countries were expected to contribute, although she did not name them. U.N. peacekeeping officials have said no Western nation so far has given a firm pledge for military personnel.

Nations are expected to finish pledging troops for the force by August 30. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2007 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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