Sudan expels western diplomats as pressure mounts over Darfur

Posted in Africa | 24-Aug-07 | Author: Ian Black| Source: Guardian (UK)

Sudan has expelled a top Canadian diplomat and the European commission's envoy as it faces international pressure over the crisis in Darfur.

The two were summoned on Wednesday to the foreign ministry in Khartoum, which confirmed yesterday that it had declared them persona non grata for "intervention in the internal affairs of the Sudan" - a euphemism for spying.

Canada and the EU, like many western countries, have been highly critical of the Sudanese government's role in Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have died since ethnic African rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated central government in 2003.

Khartoum is accused of unleashing the janjaweed militias, blamed for atrocities against civilians in a conflict that has displaced more than 2.5 million people.

Amnesty International, meanwhile, today accuses the Sudanese government of continuing to deploy offensive military equipment in Darfur despite a UN arms embargo and peace agreements. Photographs taken in July at El Geneina airport in Darfur show containers being offloaded by Sudanese soldiers from an Antonov aircraft onto military trucks, as well as Russian-supplied helicopters reported to have delivered weapons to both government and janjaweed forces.

Last month the UN security council agreed to send a strengthened African Union-UN hybrid force to Darfur. But the resolution fails to give peacekeepers a mandate to disarm or demobilise the janjaweed or armed opposition groups.

Sudan's justice minister meanwhile yesterday attacked a UN report on rapes in Darfur. The document was produced by the UN human rights commissioner, the Canadian Louise Arbour.

"This is a false report and it is clear to us that the human rights commissioner does not care about her credibility," said Mohamed Ali al-Mardi.

The report said Sudanese soldiers and militiamen subjected around 50 women to multiple rapes and other forms of violence in an attack on the village of Deribat in late December.