Sudanese president reiterates refusal of UN forces in Darfur
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Thursday reiterated refusal of the deployment of UN peacekeeping forces in Sudan's troubled western region of Darfur.
"Any attempt of deploying UN forces in Darfur is totally refused by the Sudanese people," said Bashir when addressing a gathering of thousands in the Sudanese capital Khartoum celebrating the 17th anniversary of his ruling National Congress Party's assumption of power in a bloodless coup.
Bashir said, "The excuses which are used to justify the international interference in Darfur are void pretexts."
"I stress again that I prefer to be a leader of the resistance (against UN forces) in Darfur rather than a president of an occupied country," he added.
The Sudanese president also said that the proposal of the UN peacekeeping deployment in Darfur was "motivated by a scheme to control Sudan and to impose the trusteeship on it in an attempt to violate its sovereignty."
Local analysts expect that African leaders, who will gather at an African Union (AU) summit to be held in the Gambian capital Banjul this weekend, will try to find out a solution to break the current deadlock over the UN takeover of the AU's peacekeeping mission in Darfur.
Facing mounting pressures from the UN and the AU over the deployment of international forces to replace the underfunded and ill-equipped AU forces in Darfur, Khartoum has steadfastly opposed the move, insisting that it will lead to colonization of the country and worsen the Darfur conflict.
Rebels took up arms in Sudan's arid western Darfur region in February 2003, accusing Khartoum of neglect.
A main Darfur rebel faction inked a peace deal with the Sudanese government in May, but two other key rebel factions have so far rejected the agreement.
The AU currently maintains 7,800-strong troops in Darfur to monitor a shaky ceasefire there.
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