The agreement, reached after two days of negotiations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, calls for a force ranging from 17,000 to 19,000 troops, AU Peace and Security Commissioner Said Djinnit told Reuters. Additionally, 3,700 police officers would be sent to assist the peacekeepers.
AU officials would oversee primary day-to-day operations, while the United Nations would assume overall responsibility for the peacekeeping mission. The pact appeared to garner Sudanese support after the AU assumed more responsibility for the force.
The hybrid force was a compromise to assuage Sudanese fears that an exclusively U.N. operation would grow into an occupation of Africa’s largest nation.
A deployment date has not yet been set as final approval from both the U.N. Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council is still pending.
Wary of an imposing U.N. presence, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir had suspended an original plan drafted in November, but now agrees to the terms of the joint force.
The majority of the peacekeeping force will be African, Djinnit said.
Mutrif Siddig, the head of the Sudanese delegation, told Reuters, “We agreed that priority should be given to finding troops from Africa,” but added, “If there are no enough contributions from Africa, then troops can be brought in from elsewhere.”
Entering a note of caution over the deal, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Zalmay Khalilizad stressed that Sudan would not be allowed to dictate the makeup of the peacekeeping forces.
Entering a note of caution, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Zalmay Khalilizad stressed that Sudan would not be allowed to dictate the makeup of the peacekeeping forces.
“If [Sudan’s acceptance] is conditional, as we hear, that there will be only African troops involved and no non-Africans, that would be putting a condition on the acceptance — and that would be unacceptable,” Khalilzad said in New York.
Djinnit said Sudan also questioned the operation’s “exit strategy” during negotiations. While both sides agreed to regularly review the mission, they did not specify how frequently such assessments would occur.
There are currently 7,000 AU peacekeepers stationed in Darfur, but their efforts to restore peace have been largely unsuccessful due to a lack of equipment and funding. Since 2003, more than 200,000 people have died in the conflict, which also created approximately 2 million refugees.