Sudan says a deal may be done soon over the deployment of a 20,000-strong force in Darfur, at talks in Addis Ababa with the UN and African Union. The AU and UN are presenting a revised peacekeeping plan in which the AU runs day-to-day operations, while the UN is expected to have overall control.
The current AU force of 7,000 has struggled to contain the violence. More than 200,000 people have died in the four-year conflict and around two million have fled to refugee camps. The new plan has been created to get round the objections of the Sudanese government, which does not want a solely UN force, which it says would be like a Western invasion of their country.
Earlier Sudan’s Foreign Minister Lam Akol said that the timing was not right for France to host an international meeting about the conflict in Darfur. “I am happy to say that the three parties are currently discussing in Addis Ababa the details of a hybrid force and we hope to have an agreement in the coming hours,” Mr Akol told reporters in Khartoum after meeting French counterpart Bernard Kouchner.
“We do not want any distraction,” he said. Mr Kouchner, who has pledged to make Darfur a priority, has also proposed a humanitarian corridor linking Chad and Darfur.