A high-level European visit to Khartoum seeking political solutions for the Darfur conflict has had little immediate effect. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso at the weekend tried to convince Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to allow U.N. peacekeepers in. This has been rejected.
Flying on to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, for talks with African Union (AU) chiefs, Barroso said Bashir had understood that his country risked being isolated, which would not, he said, be in its interest. Last month the U.N. Security Council approved a resolution to send 20,000 troops and police to relieve a 7,000-strong poorly-equipped AU force. Sudan’s Khartoum-based government has said the U.N. peacekeeping offer is motivated by Western colonial ambitions.
The European Union says it is the main contributor to the African Union’s mission in Darfur, with 242 million euros committed to the operation since 2004.
Analysts say the Khartoum government is worried that a U.N. force would bring a risk of regime change and that some of its officials could be arrested on war crimes charges.
The president of the AU commission, Alpha Oumar Konaré, described his idea of a time-frame for peacekeeping prospects.
“During the next three months, the AU forces should be reinforced, while political efforts continue to pursuade Sudan to accept other forces coming in.”
On Sunday, the EU released a further forty million euros for food aid for Darfur, in western Sudan, where a three-year conflict has killed roughly 200,000 people and displaced millions others.
The mandate for African forces in Darfur expires at the end of the year.