Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

BUSINESS DAILY

France's Iliad reaches for T-Mobile

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Is Poor Military Training Causing a Larger Death Toll in Gaza?

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola death toll tops 700

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Villepin Criticises France for Not Speaking Out on Gaza

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

UNRWA official breaks down over Gaza deaths

Read more

DEBATE

Argentina Defaults: Kirchner Cries Foul Over 'Vulture Funds' (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Argentina Defaults: Kirchner Cries Foul Over 'Vulture Funds'

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

War and Markets, with Steen Jakobsen, Chief Economist at Saxo Bank

Read more

FOCUS

Constitution prohibits Aung San Suu Kyi from running for president

Read more

  • Gaza ceasefire crumbles as Israel resumes military operations

    Read more

  • Regional summit to tackle deadly Ebola outbreak

    Read more

  • €2.5mn of cocaine ‘disappears’ from Paris police HQ

    Read more

  • Interactive: France’s new plan to counter jihadism in Africa

    Read more

  • Ukrainian army suffers losses in separatist attack

    Read more

  • Dozens killed and injured in Taiwan gas blast

    Read more

  • Argentinian markets plummet following default

    Read more

  • French Jews speak of growing fear in Paris amid Gaza conflict

    Read more

  • Video: Inside Hamas ‘terror’ tunnels in Gaza

    Read more

  • Sierra Leone declares state of emergency over spread of Ebola

    Read more

  • France remembers murdered socialist hero Jean Jaurès

    Read more

  • Air France ground workers to strike on August 2

    Read more

  • Scores feared dead in India landslide

    Read more

  • Russia ordered to pay further €1.9 billion to Yukos shareholders

    Read more

  • Russia defiant as US, EU unveil 'phase three' sanctions

    Read more

Africa

UN commander says Darfur war is over, at least for now

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-08-27

Departing UN-African Union joint force commander Martin Luther Agawi told correspondents that "there is no war as of now in Darfur", insisting that his force had succeeded in ending ethnic massacres in the region.

REUTERS - Sudan's Darfur region is no longer in a state of war and only has one rebel group capable of mounting limited military campaigns, the head of the area's peacekeeping force said as he ended his tour of duty.

 

The commander of the joint U.N./African Union UNAMID force, Martin Luther Agwai, told reporters the conflict had now descended into banditry and "very low intensity" engagements, that could blight the remote western region for years without a peace deal.

 

"As of today, I would not say there is a war going on in Darfur," he said in a briefing in Khartoum late on Wednesday.

 

"Militarily there is not much. What you have is security issues more now. Banditry, localised issues, people trying to resolve issues over water and land at a local level. But real war as such, I think we are over that."

 

The six-year Darfur conflict has pitted pro-government militias and troops against mostly non-Arab rebels, who took up arms in 2003, demanding better representation and accusing Khartoum of neglecting the development of the region.

 

Khartoum says 10,000 have died in Darfur, while the United Nations puts the death count at up to 300,000.

 

Agwai became the latest senior figure to appear to play down the level of violence in Darfur, where the conflict has mobilised activists who accuse Khartoum of genocide.

 

Mostly Western campaigners and some diplomats were angered by comments in April by UNAMID's political leader Rodolphe Adada, who said Darfur had subsided into a "low-intensity conflict"; and by U.S. Sudan envoy Scott Gration in June who said he had seen the "remnants of genocide" in the region, stopping short, they said, of describing a current genocide.

 
 
 
Factions
 

Agwai said the fierce fighting of the early years of the conflict had subsided as rebel groups split into rival factions.

 

"Apart from JEM, I do not see any other group that can launch an attack on the ground," he said referring to the Justice and Equality Movement, a rebel force that launched an unprecedented attack on Khartoum last year.

 

Agwai said JEM could attack, but did not have the manpower to hold territory. The Nigerian general added there was still a chance full blown fighting could resume.

 

JEM has clashed a number of times with the Sudanese army in the past months, and has said it withdrew voluntarily on two occasions to protect locals from government air attacks.

 

Agwai, who is due to leave Sudan on Thursday after two years at the head of the peacekeeping force, said his main regret was the lack of progress in getting a peace deal.

 

"I really didn't have any peace so I couldn't command a force that could really keep the peace," he said, adding that Darfur's localised insecurity could continue "for years" without a settlement. Negotiations between JEM and Khartoum in Doha are stalled and the founder of Darfur's rebel Sudan Liberation Movement is refusing to talk.

 

Adada, also due to step down this week, defended himself late on Wednesday against criticism from U.N. diplomats who told Reuters he had been ineffective in standing up to Khartoum.

 

Adada said open confrontations were not his style. "The thing is to achieve results. And UNAMID has been deployed ... You can fight and then fail or you can negotiate and get it."

 

At the end of June, just over 60 percent of UNAMID's planned full strength of 26,000 troops and police were on the ground in Darfur, an area roughly the size of France.

 
 

 

Date created : 2009-08-27

COMMENT(S)