Sudan to discuss with UN, AU on hybrid force

KHARTOUM, Jun 9, 2007 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Consultations will be held next week between the Sudanese government, the United Nations and the African Union (AU) on a proposed hybrid peacekeeping force to be deployed by the UN and AU in the conflict-torn western Sudanese region of Darfur.

Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadig told reporters that the tripartite meeting is to be held in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Monday, adding the Sudanese delegation is to leave for the meeting on Sunday.

He said that the delegation, led by undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry Mutrif Sidik, would carry the government's vision on the proposals regarding the joint UN-AU peacekeeping mission in Darfur.

Mohi-Eddin Salim, Sudanese Ambassador to the AU, told the official SUNA news agency that the tripartite meeting would be a consultative one on the details of the hybrid operation concerning troops and command.

Salim was quoted as saying that previous meetings or concerned document had affirmed that the troops would be Africans and the commander would be African and the role of the UN would be limited to the logistic, administrative, technical and financial support as well as focusing on supporting the political process.

He referring to the outcomes of the same three parties' meeting in Addis Ababa on Nov. 16, 2006, and the meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council in Abuja in the same month as well as the statement issued by the UN Security Council's chairman on December 19.

The upcoming consultations between the three parties should be made in light of these backgrounds, stressed the ambassador.

The deployment of the hybrid force is the third of the three phases of a UN plan to support the current peacekeeping operation in Darfur.

As the first phase of the plan, or "the light support package", has almost completed, the Sudanese government, the UN and AU reached an agreement in April on the second phase, or "the heavy support package" on hybrid peacekeeping force in Darfur.

Despite mounting pressure from the United States and its western allies for a UN commandership of the hybrid force, the Sudanese government insisted that the force should be commanded by an African.