Bashir wants 'clear programme’ for UNAMID to leave Darfur
KHARTOUM - Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir Sunday called for a "clear programme" for the UN-African Union mission in Darfur to leave, saying the peacekeepers had become a "burden".
Bashir's government is locked in a dispute with UNAMID over its investigation of reports Sudanese troops raped 200 women and girls in a Darfur village in October.
The UN mission was set up in 2007 to protect civilians and secure aid to Darfur, which has been wracked by conflict since 2003 when ethnic insurgents rebelled against the government complaining of marginalisation.
"We want a clear programme for UNAMID to leave Darfur," told a news conference.
"We have asked the foreign ministry to work with the United Nations to end the presence of UNAMID forces in Darfur," he said.
The foreign ministry has called on the mission to form an "exit strategy" from the region.
Bashir charged that "UNAMID has become a burden and cannot protect itself".
"It has become a protection for rebels and not for civilians," he said.
Ties have deteriorated between Khartoum and UNAMID since the mission tried to investigate a report from a local news website that soldiers raped 200 women in the village of Tabit on October 31.
UNAMID said Sudanese soldiers blocked its first attempt to enter the village and when it did reach Tabit on November 9, it found no evidence to support the claims, which Sudan has repeatedly denied.
But an internal report from UNAMID said Sudanese soldiers had intimidated villagers in Tabit as the peacekeepers tried to interview them.
Khartoum has since refused to allow the peacekeepers to return to the village.
Bashir said on Sunday that the report about the alleged mass rape in Tabit was released to the media "to put pressure on the government".
Last week, foreign ministry official accused UNAMID forces of carrying out "abuses" including rape in Darfur, but did not give any further details.
The UN says more than 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur and two million displaced since 2003.
Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes during the conflict in the region.