Tuesday, November 21, 2006

West's oil greed behind UN Darfur push - Gaddafi

Mon Nov 20, 2006 8:37 AM GMT

By Salah Sarrar

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi accused the west on Sunday of trying to grab Sudan's oil wealth with its plan to send U.N. troops to Darfur and urged Khartoum to reject them.

"Western countries and America are not busying themselves out of sympathy for the Sudanese people or for Africa but for oil and for the return of colonialism to the African continent," he said.

The comments by Gaddafi, a mediator in several African wars including Darfur, echo Sudanese government criticisms of a proposed U.N. deployment as a Western attempt at colonisation.

"Reject any foreign intervention," he told a meeting of Sudanese officials and members of a Darfur rebel faction.

"To be occupied by the Sudanese army is better than to be occupied by U.N. forces, and the biggest disaster is if the Atlantic army came and positioned itself in Sudan," he said, referring to western troops.

The United Nations and the African Union have been pressing Sudan to accept a U.N.-led peacekeeping force in Darfur to halt three years of violence that has killed tens of thousands.

Gaddafi was speaking at a ceremony attended by Sudanese government officials and a faction of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) rebels to celebrate their signing in Tripoli on Saturday of an agreement aimed at bringing peace to Darfur.

Routinely dismissed by Western commentators, Gaddafi's opinions are listened to in Africa because his advocacy of African unity, funding of African development projects and his oil wealth give Libya influence throughout the continent.

Mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms in early 2003 accusing Sudan's government of marginalising the remote west. Khartoum mobilised militias to quell the revolt. Those militias stand accused of atrocities against civilians being investigated by the International Criminal Court.

Washington calls the rape, murder and pillage in Darfur genocide, a charge Khartoum rejects.

The African Union, which has a force of monitors and troops in Darfur, has failed to protect civilians, citing lack of equipment and a weak mandate.

U.N. chief Kofi Annan said on Thursday that Sudan had agreed in principle to a stronger, joint U.N.-AU peace force for Darfur, but Sudanese officials later denied any such agreement.

Critics say Khartoum's opposition to a U.N. deployment stems from the government's fear that it would be used to arrest officials who could be indicted for war crimes.

Gaddafi is a longstanding opponent of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which he has dismissed as a dispenser of victors' and colonisers' justice.

Gaddafi accused the West of wishing to defeat his plan to construct a single African federal government in a so-called United States of Africa to maintain its economic dominance.

"The West exploits tribalism, sectarianism and (skin) colour to feed war, which leads to backwardness and Western intervention in a number of countries," he said on Sunday.

"All the conflicts in Africa are caused by colonialism, which does not want the rise of the United States of Africa and works for division and interference and for military coups."



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