US intervention in Darfur 'unjustified'

Rabat - There is no political justification for the United States (US) or United Nations (UN) intervention in Sudan's troubled Darfur region after the signing of a peace deal between the government and rebels there, a Sudanese presidential adviser said here on Monday.

"Sudan has no interest in internationalising" the Darfur crisis, Salah Eddine Ghazi told a press conference in the Moroccan capital.

"There is no political or legal basis," for such intervention, added Ghazi, who had attended a pan-Arab conference in Casablanca.

On Friday Khartoum and the main rebel group in Darfur signed a peace pact to end three years of fighting in the arid region of western Sudan that Washington says has left some 200 000 people dead.

Ghazi urged rebel groups who have not yet accepted the peace deal to sign up.

Earlier on Monday the US launched a new drive to bolster international peacekeeping forces in Darfur as a key to ending one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

President George Bush said Washington would ask the UN Security Council on Tuesday to transform a beleaguered African Union contingent in Darfur into a larger UN force to enforce last week's landmark peace deal.

US officials, who have branded the bloodshed as genocide, said their aim was to transform the beleaguered 7 000-strong AU contingent in Darfur into a UN force with double the manpower and increased Nato logistical support.

A US draft resolution circulated Monday at the United Nations urged that UN peacekeepers already in southern Sudan be shifted to Darfur. Bush said Rice would present the text at a ministerial meeting Tuesday of the Security Council.

But Khartoum has resisted the deployment of UN troops in Darfur and US officials acknowledged that two phone calls by Bush to Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir produced no immediate sign he had changed his mind.

Ghazi said that accusations of human rights violations in Darfur should not just be aimed at the Sudanese government but also at the armed factions.

He said the sale and circulation of arms was easy in Darfur which is the size as France and "security control is difficult".

Khartoum said Monday it will start disarming next week the militias accused of carrying out atrocities in Darfur.

The process of disarming all militias, including the Janjaweed will "begin on May 15 and President Omar al-Beshir has already instructed the armed forces to commence with this operation," said Majzoub al-Khalifa Ahmed, Khartoum's chief negotiator on Darfur. - Sapa-AFP


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