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Can Khartoum Go it Alone?

Activists in Sudan are urging the UN and African Union not to go ahead with plans to withdraw 26,000 peacekeepers from Darfur this year, claiming the move will put lives at risk. The peacekeepers from the AU-UN hybrid operation in Darfur, which has a mandate to protect civilians by force if necessary, will leave in October under plans expected to be agreed by the UN Security Council, although it is understood the UK and Germany want to delay troop withdrawal. The withdrawal will make way for a new UN “political mission” in the country to help the government draw up a new constitution and arrange elections. Almost 100 civil society groups have signed a petition opposing the plan which decries the “cone of silence” around what it says is persistent conflict in Darfur.