Head of troubled Darfur peacekeeping force resigns

Tue Aug 25, 2009 5:45pm EDT
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By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The head of the joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping mission in Sudan's conflict-torn Darfur region, who some diplomats say has been ineffective, is stepping down, the U.N. said on Tuesday.

The world body is working closely with the AU to find a replacement for Rodolphe Adada, a former foreign minister of the Republic of Congo, U.N. spokeswoman Marie Okabe said.

Other U.N. officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity that the United Nations and AU were considering several candidates from different parts of Africa.

The U.N.-AU peacekeeping force in Darfur, known as UNAMID, said in a statement that Adada's resignation takes effect on August 31. Diplomats and U.N. officials said he was expected to return to politics in his home country.

General Henry Anyidoho of Ghana, deputy head of UNAMID, will head the mission until a permanent replacement for Adada is named, U.N. officials said.

The conflict in Sudan's western Darfur region has been going on for more than six years. The United Nations says as many as 300,000 people have died since 2003, compared to Khartoum's official death toll of 10,000. The world body also says some 4.7 million people in Darfur rely on aid to survive.

UNAMID was established by a U.N. Security Council resolution passed in July 2007. Adada has led the mission from the start, overseeing its slow and difficult deployment.

At the end of June, just over 60 percent of UNAMID's planned full strength of 26,000 troops and police had been deployed in Darfur, an area roughly the size of France. The U.N. hopes 90 percent will be on the ground by the end of the year.   Continued...

<p>United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) Joint Special Representative Rodolphe Adada speaks during the funeral ceremony for seven peacekeepers in El Fasher July 12, 2008. REUTERS/Albany Associates/Stuart Price/Handout</p>