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African Union to Transition to U.N. Force in Darfur

The AU announced it will extend its mission there for six more months to enable the transition and to try and broker a deal between the rebel groups, the Janjaweed militia and the Sudanese government.

Western leaders, who had hoped a large U.N. force would be called upon to reinforce AU authorities in Darfur, were disappointed with the delay but pointed out that the deal lacked a measure proposed by the Sudanese government that would have prevented the United Nations from ever assuming control of the mission.

The Sudanese government has claimed the presence of U.N. peacekeepers would increase the instability in Darfur, and could lead rebel groups to form a violent insurgency like those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Under the new mandate, the 7,000 AU peacekeepers could be replaced by U.N. forces in September, putting pressure on the Sudanese government to come to the bargaining table.

It also calls for the creation of a heads of state committee that would be tasked with finalizing a peace agreement by April 30.

The United States and European Union have called for U.N. intervention in the troubled Darfur region, saying AU forces are insufficient and have failed to stop the violence that has plagued the area for more than three years.

More than 2 million people have been left homeless since the 2003 revolt by Darfur’s ethnic African rebels against the primarily-Arab government.

Reports of mass executions by the government backed Janjaweed militia are widespread with 180,000 people killed though some estimates place that number as high as 300,000.

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