Mhambi has been redeployed.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

South African AU soldiers frustrated in Darfur

Barking out the orders is a man who would not be out of place in a Hollywood film - South African sector commander Richard Lourens.

A veteran of wars in Angola and Namibia, he is not a man who takes failure well.

Sporting a closely trimmed black beard and a macho swagger, he has been in Darfur just a few months but he has had enough of being pushed around in this messy conflict.

Large parts of the surrounding desert are off limits to his patrols and twice in the past two weeks Colonel Lourens' men have suffered the ultimate military humiliation.

Stopped by rebels on a road, the South African soldiers handed over their weapons and vehicles without a shot being fired. Some 45 machine guns and four vehicles were taken.

Part of the problem is Mr Minni Minnawi - a rebel and alledgedly a killer of other rebels, America supports and the AU soldiers are protecting. Mr Minnawi's violence has left the African Union humiliated and deeply compromised. When the deal was signed the AU had welcomed him with open arms.

The rebel leader stays inside AU headquarters, eats AU food and his men drive, and on some occasions crash, AU cars. Atrocities have been brushed under the carpet and when Mr Minnawi wants to go into the field, an African Union helicopter is made available to fly him there.

The men of the African Union went to Darfur to help protect its displaced people.

Read the whole BBC report.

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