African Union foreign ministers are set to decide Friday whether to ask the United Nations to take control of their 7,000-strong mission monitoring a shaky ceasefire in Darfur, according to Reuters.
The United Nations is seeking to help AU forces, which lack funds and equipment, but Sudan opposes intervention by non-African troops in the Darfur conflict, which Washington has in the past labeled genocide.
Tens of thousands have been killed and 2 million have fled their homes and live in camps after years of killings, rapes and other violence. Although Khartoum denies reports of any systematic genocide, the International Criminal Court is investigating possible war crimes.
The United Nations currently has about 10,000 troops in Sudan’s south overseeing a separate peace deal signed last year to end two decades of civil war.
U.N. sources said any deployment in the western region would likely keep AU forces on the ground but change the chain of command over to a U.N. peacekeeping mission, according to Reuters.
“In the south, they are there to help, but in Darfur this will just be a front for Israel and America to come in to get our oil,” said demonstrator Amal Jaafar.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, who is joining talks among European Union and Sudanese officials in Brussels, said he would push for the U.N. mission.
“We believe that, to the maximum extent possible, the AU forces in Darfur should be incorporated into the U.N. mission in which Africans should play a key leadership role,” he said in a statement.