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Sudan urges UN to withdraw all peacekeepers by June 2020

Sudan urged the UN Security Council on Monday to lift its suspension of troop withdrawals and ensure all peacekeepers leave Darfur by June 2020, but the African Union said overall security in the vast western region “remains volatile.”

Sudan’s UN Ambassador Omer Mohamed Siddig told the council it’s time to shift from peacekeeping to peacebuilding in Darfur, and to end restrictions on the government’s movement of arms and troops in and out of the region. In late June, the Security Council voted unanimously to put the brakes on the withdrawal of the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force from Darfur as the country dealt with a political crisis.

It extended the mandate of the force, known as UNAMID, until October 31, and it asked the UN and AU to make recommendations by September 30 on what the council should do about continuing the withdrawal.

The Darfur conflict began in 2003 when ethnic Africans rebelled, accusing the Arab-dominated Sudanese government of discrimination. The government in Khartoum was accused of retaliating by arming local nomadic Arab tribes and unleashing them on civilian populations ? a charge it denies. In recent years, as the result of a successful government military campaign, the rebellion has been reduced to a rebel Sudan Liberation Army faction headed by Abdul Wahid Elnur in Jebel Marra.

In July 2018, the Security Council voted to dramatically cut the UNAMID force in response to reduced fighting and improved security conditions. The target for ending the mission is June 30, 2020. Smail Chergui, the AU commissioner for peace and security, told the council that Darfur still faces “intermittent armed clashes” between government forces and Elnur’s rebels, who also have abducted civilians and staff of nongovernmental organisations for ransom, robbed commercial trucks and looted property of local media and humanitarian organisations.

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