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Darfur War - 2006

As of the beginning of February 2006, the UN Security Council asked Kofi Annan, to "initiate contingency planning" and to produce various options in consultation with the AU, for UN peacekeeping operations. Around the same time, which helped spur on the UN Security Council intitative, was the fact that 70,000 people fled the town of Mershing, after militiamen attacked. Talk of NATO reinforcements had also been expressed that time.

After many delays and missed deadlines, the slow negotiations between the Sudanese government and the largest rebel movement active in Sudan's Darfur region, the Sudan Liberatioin Movement, struck a deal in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, on May 5th, 2006. Despite the optimistic deal, two other significant rebel groups refused to sign it. While not all the parties agreed, the agreement affords a political breach which made it possible for the UN to send stronger, better-armed peacekeeping forces into Darfur, to support and replace the existing AU forces. Additionally the agreement called for the disarming of the Janjaweed.

As of the end of July 2006, the Khartoum government had been slow to approve and grant permission to let UN officials and troops into Darfur, Sudan. The prospects of UN peacekeeping forces remains grim, unless the Sudanese government relinquishes their obstinate stance.

In August 2006, the Sudanese government rejected a UN resolution authorizing a peacekeeping force in Darfur on the grounds that it would be a violation of Sudanese sovereignty. The plan would enlarge the current force from 7,000 to 20,000. On September 3, Khartoum asked the African Union force to leave the country when at the end of its mandate.

At a 22 September 2006 emergency international meeting on the Darfur conflict, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that “time is running out.” She called upon those in attendance to continue to press Sudan to accept a larger peacekeeping force. In 6 October 2006, Sudan sent a letter to the Security Council declaring its view that any contribution to a peacekeeping force would be considered “a hostile act.” The United States ambassador to the UN, John R. Bolton, said the letter demanded “a strong response.”

On 22 October 2006, UN envoy to Sudan, Jan Pronk was expelled from Sudan. Khartoum claimed that Pronk was asked to leave because he had violated his neutrality on the situation. At issue was a blog Pronk maintained time in Sudan. The government considered the blog to be propaganda because it contained an entry claiming that the Sudanese army was suffering from low morale due to defeats in Darfur. After consultations in New York between Kofi Annan, Pronk, and Sudan’s UN ambassador, the UN announced that he would keep his position.

The Darfur crisis threatened to become a regional conflict on 7 November 2006 when Chad accused Sudan of “exporting the genocide.” In the week prior to this announcement, 200 people were killed attacks on villages just inside the Chadian border. Chad declared a state of emergency on the 13th and was backed by a UN warning against the incursion.

On the 17th, Sudan said it would welcome a hybrid UN-AU force as long as the UN was not in command. Specifically, the Sudan said it would accept “all financial, material, logistic, or technical assistance from the UN in order to strengthen the AU mission in Darfur.” On the same day, Chad proposed an anti-Sudan alliance with the Central African Republic (CAR). The CAR and Chad had accused Sudan of backing rebels fighting against the CAR government.

Hopes of a deal between the UN, AU, and Darfur were put in jeopardy on 18 November when the AU accused Sudan of launching a new ground and air offensive in Darfur. Although details were few, the AU said that there had been heavy casualties. On 30 November the AU voted to extend the peacekeepers’ mandate for another six months after January.

The United States, on 14 December 2006, proposed a no-fly zone over Darfur to prevent attacks against civilians. The State Department proposed other UN-sanctioned options including a naval blockade, or air strikes. Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Council agreed to send a team of experts to Darfur to investigate allegations of abuse.




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