UN renews Darfur peacekeeping mandate; Sudan annoyed
By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council extended on Tuesday the mandate of the U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force in Sudan's conflict-torn western Darfur region, though Khartoum criticized the move for urging the troops to help capture a fugitive Ugandan warlord.
The 15-nation council passed a British-drafted resolution extending the peacekeepers' mandate for another 12 months to July 31, 2013, with 14 votes in favor and none against.
An envoy from Azerbaijan abstained from the vote, saying that his nation supported the force but had reservations about the text.
The resolution also reduced the maximum number of peacekeepers in the U.N.-African Union force, known as UNAMID, to 16,200 military personnel and 2,310 police personnel, down from 19,555 military and 3,772 in last year's resolution.
While most peacekeeping mandate renewals are routine, the inclusion of language on the Ugandan rebel group known as the Lord's Resistance Army in the draft resolution on UNAMID irritated several council members, including veto powers Russia and China, council diplomats said on condition of anonymity.
The resolution says the council "encourages UNAMID, within existing capacities and consistent with its mandate, to co-operate and share information" on the group, led by Joseph Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague to face war crimes charges.
Khartoum's U.N. ambassador, Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, complained that the reference to Kony's group, which has been circulating within Uganda, Central African Republic and South Sudan, was unwarranted.
"The LRA is known, it's a rebel group, a terrorist group which Sudan condemns," he said. "We do not find any logic in linking UNAMID with the LRA." Continued...