African states demand more funds for peacekeepers

News and Press Release
Originally published
SIRTE, Libya, June 3 (Reuters) - The United Nations must provide African Union peacekeepers with money and equipment it has promised so they can act to end conflicts like that in Darfur, leaders from 25 African countries said on Sunday.

The United Nations should "fulfil its commitments of providing the financial and logistical support required for the African Union, with a view to enabling it to carry out its missions adequately," the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) said after a meeting in the Libyan city of Sirte.

The conference was organised by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who has campaigned for Africa to find internal solutions to its problems and said outside intervention will only exacerbate the crisis in Darfur.

Sudan has rejected international demands to allow the deployment of a large U.N. contingent in Darfur, saying supporting the underfunded and ill-equipped 7,000-strong AU force would be enough to stabilise the region.

Exasperated at what it sees as Sudan's refusal to end the conflict, the United States last week imposed new sanctions on Khartoum and is considering expanding U.N. Security Council sanctions. But Security Council members China, Russia and South Africa fear sanctions will not help stop the violence.

In its statement CEN-SAD said foreign intervention might further complicate and lengthen the Darfur problem and could be aimed at "exploiting the problem for ... interference in the internal affairs of Sudan and imposing guardianship over it".

It called on all factions who have not committed to peace in Darfur to join the process "as soon as possible".

CEN-SAD reiterated its aim of a trade area allowing free movement of people and goods to boost sustainable economic development across the vast, mostly arid and poor region, which stretches from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean.

It is still far from achieving that goal, however, and members have made more progress under other, competing economic union projects, such as the largest African trading bloc COMESA.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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