July 1, 2006

Sudan expels Chadian military

By Opheera McDoom

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan has ordered Chadian military
personnel working with African Union truce monitors in its
western Darfur region to leave, the AU said on Saturday.

Chadian-Sudanese relations have deteriorated, with both
sides accusing the other of supporting guerrillas working in
Sudan's remote west, which has a long, porous border with Chad.

"Today all the Chadian representatives are gathered in
el-Fasher and will leave," AU spokesman Noureddine Mezni said.
"We regret this decision ... and urge all sides to use dialogue
to resolve their differences peacefully."

The 7,000 AU troops are headquartered in el-Fasher in North
Darfur, but the ill-equipped force has been unable to stem the
widespread rape, murder and looting which has forced 2.5
million to flee their homes and killed tens of thousands.

Chad mediated a ceasefire signed by the rebels and the
government in April 2004 but the truce has been widely ignored
by all sides. Under that deal a Chadian representative, as well
as one from each of the two main rebel groups and a government
official, must accompany investigations of ceasefire

The expulsion of the around 30 Chadian military observers
will likely further hinder AU investigations in the region and
underlines a significant worsening in relations between Sudan
and Chad, who have already cut diplomatic ties.

AU operations have been obstructed since an AU-mediated
deal on May 5, which only one of three negotiating rebel
factions signed, and tens of thousands of Darfuris reject.

They say they want more political posts, more compensation
for war victims and a role in disarming the marauding militia,
armed by the government, known locally as Janjaweed.

Many of Darfur's tribes span the Chad-Sudan border and Chad
has been seen as integral to convincing those insurgents who
have not signed the accord to join.

Sudan accuses Chad of supporting the Darfur rebels. Some
Chadian army defectors say they fought alongside Darfur rebels
while in the Chadian army. In turn, Chad accuses Khartoum of
supporting those rebels who have attacked many towns in the
east and even reached the capital N'Djamena in April.

Earlier this year, a Chadian AU representative defected and
joined Chadian rebels who have bases along the remote border.

The AU has been attacked in the camps housing those who
fled the violence and by rebels who did not sign the deal.

The AU has expressed support for a U.N. take-over of its
mission, a move Khartoum rejects. The AU mandate expires on
September 30 but the United Nations says it cannot deploy
before January 2007.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan hopes to meet President
Omar Hassan al-Bashir in Gambia at a summit of African leaders
which begins on Saturday.