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AU Troops Withdrawal Raise Concerns


September 18, 2006

Sudan's Darfur region is prepared for renewed violence despite a peace accord as the date for the withdrawal of African Union troops draws nears.

Sudan has sent in new troops into El Fasher, capital of North Darfur as frustrated rebel forces plan for renewed fighting against government forces.

And this has led to more civilians fleeing bombed-out villages, joining the estimated 2 million already in refugee camps, reports The Washington Post.

The African Union peace monitoring force is scheduled to leave at the end of this month.

The Sudanese government of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has blocked efforts to deploy a U.N. force of 20,000 to replace the African Union force, raising fears among rebels of new violence since the cease-fire agreement in May. The Sudan government feels the U.N. troop deployment is an attempt by the West to re-colonize the country.

The cease-fire deal has been repeatedly violated by the government which has also failed to restrain the Janjaweed militia, which continues to rape, kill and pillage, the Post reported.

Analysts told the Post that once the African Union force leaves, the last buffer will be lost against a bloodier assault in Darfur.

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