Mbeki: No war in Darfur
André le Roux
Johannesburg - There is no war in Darfur, and the people who are saying so, are doing it to justify their own political agendas.
This was how former President Thabo Mbeki expressed his opinion on the situation in Sudan during an address at the University of Pretoria's Faculty of Law on Wednesday evening.
He did acknowledge that there is currently a "low-intensity war" in Western Sudan, the region where Darfur is located.
Darfur is a "refugee camp" spread out over an area larger than Gauteng, and according to the African Union (AU), it houses 2.7 million people who've fled onslaughts by their own government. These people are living in conditions of extreme hardship.
The UN estimated that 300 000 of the local population have been murdered by Sudanese government forces and Janjaweed rebels in a war which has been described by the UN as a "genocide" and an "ethnic cleansing".
Mbeki is heading up an AU delegation negotiating a peace treaty in Sudan. He is currently doing everything within his power to prevent Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir from being arrested and tried on war crimes charges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
Mbeki, who declared last year that "there is no crisis in Zimbabwe", said he had recently spent 30 days in Darfur, "and there is no war".
He took exception to the fact that the UN Security Council has not accepted the AU's recent report on the current situation in Darfur.
"They're extremely upset because we didn't deliver a report stating that a bloody war was taking place. There is still a low-intensity war going on, since there has been no peace agreement yet. People who allege otherwise, are creating their own convenient and self-justifying reality," he said.
Mbeki also advised Africa to reconsider its relations with the G8 countries (the US, Britain, Italy, France, Japan, Canada, Germany and Russia), and rather to turn to China.
"Western countries are becoming increasingly concerned about China's growing presence in Africa."
He said China has already established that it is positive towards Africa. In this regard, he referred to the building of the Tanzam railway line between Tanzania and Zambia.
"China isn't the gogga, - I think the English for that is 'monster' - that many would suggest they are," said Mbeki.