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Egypt Refuses U.N. Request to Help Sway Sudan Leader

ICC NOTE: Once again, members of the Arab League, or specifically one member – Egypt slow to help end the crisis in Darfur . This is reminiscent of Southern Sudan , when thousands of Christians were slaughtered.


3/25/07 Egypt For the full article (NY Times) — President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt rebuffed a request on Saturday from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to influence Sudan ’s president to drop his objections to United Nations peacekeepers in Darfur .

At a morning meeting with the Egyptian president here, Mr. Ban said he had asked for help in changing the mind of the Sudanese leader, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who has been defying United Nations requests to put troops into Darfur to help the overwhelmed African Union mission there. Government and rebel violence in Sudan ’s western Darfur region has left 200,000 people dead and 2.5 million displaced.

“The issue is not pressure; the issue is discussions between the government of Sudan and the rebels,” said Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the Egyptian foreign minister, who appeared at a news conference with Mr. Ban.

“First we have to enlarge the political process,” Mr. Aboul Gheit said, explaining that the main objective now was to get rebel groups that had not signed a peace accord on board. “As they join, then we will have the possibility of a settlement. But to talk about pressure, that will not bring us a solution.”

Mr. Ban said he had told Mr. Mubarak that while he had appealed in the past mainly to African nations to help curb the calamity of Darfur , “at this time Arab leaders should also try to help this worsening situation.”

Appearing resigned to the rejection, Mr. Ban said, “I expect that President Mubarak and other leaders in the region will take their time and look at this issue more seriously so that the efforts of the United Nations and the African Union can address this issue as soon as possible.”

In agreements signed last year in Addis Ababa , Ethiopia , and Abuja , Nigeria , Mr. Bashir appeared to accept the deployment of United Nations troops in his country, only to then back away from them.

In a letter to Mr. Ban circulated a week ago, Mr. Bashir asked to reopen an agreement that called for an interim “heavy support” package of 3,000 well-equipped military police officers along with aviation and logistics support to beef up the 7,000-soldier African Union force now in Darfur and to prepare the way for an eventual 21,000-troop joint United Nations-African Union hybrid force.

Mr. Ban protested then that the Sudanese president was reneging on the accord, and Western ambassadors on the Security Council said any reworking of it would delay a peacekeeping force until the start of 2008.

Maged Abdelaziz, the Egyptian ambassador to the United Nations, sought to counter the impression that Mr. Ban had been rebuffed.

“It’s not a no,” he said. “We’re willing to spend all the effort with the Sudanese to find a solution, but we’re trying to gather those factions that are still outside the Abuja peace agreement to encourage them to respond positively.”

He said that Egypt shared some of the concerns that the Sudanese had about the staged deployments and that Egypt was counseling them to explain themselves better.

“We told them you have to be more positive, and have to come up with some acceptable format of dealing with the U.N.,” he said.

In the second day of his 12-day Middle East tour, Mr. Ban also presented his request for help in Darfur to Amr Moussa, the secretary general of the League of Arab States.

Mr. Ban is attending the league’s summit meeting next week in Riyadh , Saudi Arabia , and Mr. Moussa said he would arrange a meeting there among Mr. Ban, Mr. Bashir and Blaise Compaoré, the current head of the African Union.