Sudanese President Refuses to Allow U.N. Peacekeeping Troops
Al-Bashir said his country was better off without the troops than it would be with them and expressed a fear that the presence of U.N. troops would worsen the situation, comparing it to Iraq.
“We decided that with such an army moving into our country, the impact is going to be the same as what’s been happening in Iraq,” Bashir said in Arabic at a press conference in Beijing.
Al-Bashir was in Beijing to attend a historic African-China summit. He had met on Thursday with Chinese president Hu Jintao, who urged him to step up his diplomacy after the United Nations passed a resolution authorizing 22,000 troops to replace current African Union peacekeepers.
Al-Bashir added that the war only affected seven regions in Darfur and that war-related deaths did not exceed 10,000. Public health problems still pose the biggest threat to Darfur inhabitants, just as they do in the rest of the country, he said.
Al-Bashir’s remarks preceded new attacks in West Darfur on Friday reported to have killed at least 63 people, half of them children. Rebels accused the Khartoum government of remobilizing the Janjaweed Arab militia after it suffered two recent setbacks on the Sudan-Chad border.
“The government have begun mobilizing the Janjaweed widely, especially in West Darfur, because they want to clear the area and move north along the border and defeat us,” Bahr Idriss Abu Garda, a leader of the National Redemption Front, told Reuters.
During the three-and-a-half years of revolt in Darfur, experts estimate 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million forced from their homes. Mostly non-Arabs rebelled against the government in Khartoum, accusing it of neglect. The central government backed mainly Arab militias to put the revolt down in response. The International Criminal Court is investigating alleged war crimes of the militias, who have been accused of rape, murder and looting.