KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan will not seek to renew the mandate for the international peacekeeping mission in Darfur in June as it believes the insurgency there is winding down and civilians are safe, its foreign minister said on Thursday.
The joint African Union-United Nations force, known as UNAMID, has been stationed in Darfur since 2007 with a mandate to stem violence against civilians. The U.N. Security Council will discuss a one-year renewal of its mission in June.
Security remains fragile in Darfur, where mainly non-Arab tribes have been fighting the Arab-led government in Khartoum, and the government is struggling to control rural areas.
Clashes between government forces and armed groups in mid-January forced more than 130 thousand people to flee their homes, according to U.N. figures.
“It is time to end the mission of UNAMID in Darfur,” Foreign Minister Kamal Ismail said. “The situation is stable in Darfur and the rebel activities receded. There is no citizen in Darfur that is under threat and in need of protection from UNAMID.”
Some 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur since the conflict began in 2003, the U.N. says, while 4.4 million people need aid and over 2.5 million have been displaced.
The International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in 2009 and 2010 on charges of war crimes and genocide in his drive to crush the Darfur revolt.
Sudan asked UNAMID to prepare to leave in 2014 amid a dispute over attempts by the mission to investigate an alleged mass rape by Sudanese soldiers in the Darfur town of Tabit. The government denies any wrongdoing by the soldiers.
“We believe that it is better to shift the budget that is spent on the UNAMID mission to the development of Darfur and hope that UNAMID’s exit happens smoothly through dialogue,” Ismail said.
Reporting by Khaled Abdelaziz; Writing by Asma Alsharif; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Tom Heneghan
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