Bundestag approves 75 soldiers for UN force

22nd April 2005, Comments 0 comments

22 April 2005, BERLIN - The German parliament on Friday approved the deployment of 75 soldiers to southern Sudan as military observers in a United Nations peacekeeping force.

22 April 2005

BERLIN - The German parliament on Friday approved the deployment of 75 soldiers to southern Sudan as military observers in a United Nations peacekeeping force.

With both government and opposition support, the deployment was overwhelmingly approved with 552 'yes' votes, while three members voted against the measure and 10 abstained.

The German troops, part of a 750-member UN observer group, will be stationed in the southern and eastern zones of Sudan covered by a January ceasefire agreement between Khartoum and Sudanese rebels.

German Defence Minister Peter Struck stressed that German soldiers were not intended for western Sudan's war-torn Darfur region where an African Union (AU) mission currently has forces. Berlin has supplied airlift support for the AU - but no ground troops.

The UN plans to deploy 10,000 soldiers in southern Sudan to keep the peace after 21 years of civil war between the central government in Khartoum, which is Moslem-Arab, and the south which is dominated by Christians and animists.

An estimated 1.5 million people have been killed in the conflict and some 4 million displaced.

A peace deal signed on 9 January between Khartoum and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLMA) stipulates the withdrawal of Sudanese government troops from the south. It also gives the region power- and wealth-sharing as well as religious freedom.

Following a six-year transition period, the people of southern Sudan will be allowed to vote in a referendum on whether or not to break away from Sudan in order to form a separate state.

DPA

Subject: German news

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