Nigerian leader warns on Darfur
|Bbc News, 11 Octobre 2006|
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has warned of a possible genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.
Mr Obasanjo said security should be handed over to the United Nations, but the peacekeeping force should retain its African character.
He made the comments at an African Union (AU) meeting in Addis Ababa. Two AU ministers are now heading to Sudan.
It is the strongest use of the word 'genocide' in connection with the Darfur conflict by an African leader.
"It is not in the interest of Sudan, nor in the interest of Africa nor indeed in the interest of the world for us all to stand by and see genocide being developed in Darfur," he told journalists.
Mr Obasanjo's comments are expected to anger Khartoum, which rejects the term 'genocide' and says the scale of the problems are being exaggerated for political reasons.
Some 7,000 AU troops have been unable to end the violence, which has led to some 2m people fleeing their homes since 2003.
Studies estimate at least 200,000 people have died during the conflict.
Last month, the UN Security Council approved plans to send 17,000 peacekeepers to Darfur to replace the smaller AU force.
Sudan, however, has rejected the plan, saying it would infringe on its sovereignty.
After a bitter row at the UN Security Council last week, it suggested that the UN could provide training and logistical support to the AU force.
The foreign ministers of Senegal and Nigeria are due in Sudan. Senegalese Foreign Minister Sheikh Tidiane Gadio said they hoped to persuade Sudan to accept the deployment UN peacekeepers.
A UN report released Monday said hundreds of Sudanese have been killed in attacks by Arab militiamen in the Buram area of South Darfur with the apparent knowledge and support of the government.
The UN had previously thought only 38 people had died in attacks on black African villages.
Sudan has always denied backing the Arab militias accusing of widespread atrocities in Darfur.
The UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour called for an investigation into the attacks and for those responsible to be prosecuted.
Sudan's Justice Minister Mohamed Ali al-Mardi told Reuters news agency that the report had not used reliable sources, adding that the government did not back one side against another in Darfur.
The report says the violence appears to have been a coordinated campaign to drive out black Africans before the arrival of UN peacekeepers, with the assumption that international troops would simply maintain the status quo in the area.