AU extends mandate of Darfur mission

News and Press Release
Originally published
ADDIS ABABA, June 22 (Reuters) - The African Union extended the mandate for its Darfur peacekeeping mission until the end of the year on Friday and said it hoped efforts to deploy a hybrid AU/United Nations force would be speeded up.

The AU's Peace and Security Council also called for financial and logistical support for its AMIS operation in the troubled Sudanese region, where its African troops have not been paid for three months at a time.

"The council decided to extend the mandate of AMIS for an additional period not exceeding six months until Dec 31, 2007 in the expectation that efforts will be expedited for early deployment of the hybrid operation," the AU said in a statement.

After months of intense diplomacy, Sudan agreed last week to a combined AU/UN force of 23,000 troops and police to bolster a beleaguered AU force of 7,000.

Khartoum's approval came days after Washington strengthened sanctions on Sudan and threats that a U.S. and British draft resolution would be tabled imposing U.N. sanctions on Africa's biggest nation.

International experts estimate 200,000 people have died in four years of conflict in Darfur. Khartoum puts the death toll at 9,000.

The AU also urged member states to contribute troops to the hybrid force to ensure the "predominately African character" of the operation.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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