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U.N., AU Work to Convince Sudan to Accept U.N. Troops

BY Admin  June 9, 2006 at 2:06 PM EST

Nigerian soldiers in the African Union

The coalition is expected to meet with the government on Saturday. Military and telecommunications experts are headed to Darfur to plan for the possible deployment of U.N. troops.

The team plans to be in Sudan for 18 days and includes the head of U.N. peacekeeping, Jean-Marie Geuhenno.

“We are here to work together to see how well we can help the people in Darfur live together in harmony,” AU Peace and Security Commissioner Said Djinnit commented.

Sudan so far has opposed any kind of robust U.N. force and fears a U.N. mandate would give foreign troops free military reign. Currently there are 7,000 poorly equipped and under-funded African Union troops who are monitoring an unstable cease-fire in Darfur.

The AU mission costs nearly $40 million a month to sustain. But unlike U.N. peacekeeping missions, which have guaranteed funding from the United Nations, the AU relies on donor nations to pay costs.

The United Nations and African Union will assess how to proceed under a May 5 peace agreement. The deal, signed by only one of the three rebel groups, has failed to alleviate tensions in Darfur.

The African Union said Thursday that four members of the rebel groups who refused to sign the agreement in May, had decided to sign the deal as individuals.

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir initially refused entry to the team but reluctantly allowed them to begin work after days of intense talks with senior U.N. officials.

Analysts said the Sudanese government is resisting letting in U.N. troops because it fears officials will be tried for war crimes under the International Criminal Court.