In the course of a two and a half hour press conference, Sudanese President Omar al Bashir rejected UN command of a hybrid AU-UN force for Darfur, saying he would only accept African Troops under African leadership. Bashir also gave an impossibly low mortality estimate – 9,000 – as the number of people who have died as a result of the conflict in Darfur. These comments could be a serious setback to the quick deployment of an effective peacekeeping force to Darfur.Peter Gantz of Refugees International astutely dissects the present situation in an essay posted on his organization’s website. In the face of Sudanese obstructionism, writes Gantz, the United Nations should remain steadfast to its commitment for an effective force in Darfur. But for that to happen, member states must back up the UN and not allow Sudan to dictate the terms of deployment of a hybrid force.

As Gantz writes, Sudan has the upper hand at the moment. And their diplomatic tactics may be aimed at making sure that a force for Darfur remains weak. This kind of obstructionism can only be overcome through the concerted efforts of member states concerned for the safety and stability of the region.

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