Saturday, June 10, 2006

Sudan tribes threatens jihad on UN troops

Africa: If they show up in Darfur for peacekeeping operations.

UN ambassadors in Sudan have met with strong opposition from tribal leaders to the deployment of troops in Darfur, including threats of holy war. The UN wants to take over peacekeeping efforts in Darfur to help implement a recent peace deal signed between the government and the main rebel force. But one tribal leader has threatened to call for jihad if non-African troops intervene in the war-torn region. The conflict has claimed some 200,000 lives in the past three years. Some 7,000 African Union (AU) troops are currently stationed in the war-torn western region, but they are under-funded and poorly equipped, and have struggled to contain the violence. However, Khartoum has made clear that it would prefer the AU peacekeepers to be given more support rather than allow a UN force into the region. UN officials have stressed they want to work alongside the Sudanese government and not take over peacekeeping efforts. 'Foreign occupation' Tribal chiefs in Darfur have also expressed resistance to the idea. "If a UN force is sent here, I will call for jihad," warned Muwad Jalalabin, chief of the Barty tribe. Any deployment of non-African forces in the region would be considered as "foreign occupation", he told the reporters in el-Fasher, the main town in north Darfur. Osman Kebir, governor of northern Darfur, also voiced opposition to the UN proposal, telling the Reuters news agency that the region needed humanitarian assistance but "not troops".

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