Fourteen stories from Thursday night and Friday morning (many of which are updated versions of earlier items) that are related to, most recently, Thursday's huge batch (updated originally to add the ones from the UK's "Times", the UK's "Guardian", the "Los Angeles Times", Australia's ABC, the "Washington Post", and AFP; updated further to add the one from the "Washington Times"; updated still further to add the one from the "Boston Globe" [thanks to Eugene]; updated yet again to add the one from the "Globe and Mail"):
(All of the stories here reflect developments through Thursday night; items concerning newer developments will be in a later post. See also Thursday's batch of post-vote reaction press releases; in addition, the official transcript of the briefing featuring Jendayi Frazer and Kristen Silverberg that's referred to in most of the later stories is now available on the State Department site.)
The UN Security Council has attempted to raise the pressure on the Khartoum government to co-operate with international efforts to end the Darfur killings by establishing a UN peacekeeping force for the Sudanese province.
The council adopted a resolution yesterday [Thursday] that strengthened the mandate of a struggling African mission and injected fresh military assets. It set out plans for up to 22,500 UN troops and police officers to be deployed this year. The troops would bolster the existing 7,000-member African force, which would be absorbed by the UN mission.
However, the resolution made it clear that the UN force could only take over from the African troops in Darfur with the agreement of the Sudanese government - which remains opposed to its deployment. The Sudanese government rejected the UN resolution last night. Human rights monitors warned that the resolution, although adopted with the intention of halting the violence that has left tens of thousands of people dead and displaced 2.5 million over three years, was an empty promise.
The Sudanese President, Lt Gen Omar Al-Bashir, has warned that Sudan would confront any international forces sent to Darfur and fight them "as Hizbollah beat Israeli forces" in Lebanon.
The resolution was passed by 12 votes to 0, with Russia, China and Qatar abstaining. Sudan's UN representatives boycotted the session. The decision by the council's only Arab member to refrain from supporting the resolution was a measure of the Islamic government's success in blocking a UN force.
Britain and America, which sponsored the resolution, are frustrated with the lack of progress in implementing a peace agreement for Darfur. The violence in the western province the size of France has worsened since peace accords were signed last May between the government and two rebel groups.
The Sudanese military plans to move 10,500 troops to Darfur to face rebels who have refused to sign the agreements that provided for some power-sharing, raising fears of a full-scale war.
Jan Egeland, the UN's chief humanitarian official, told the Security Council this week that he feared "a man-made catastrophe of an unprecedented scale" within weeks unless the council acted immediately to deal with the spiralling violence and displacement.
Mr Egeland warned of "hundreds of thousands of deaths" if aid operations - already at grave risk because of attacks on workers, reduced access, and funding shortfalls - collapse.
Darfur rebels said yesterday that Sudanese planes and troops attacked villages in the western region before the Security Council vote. The Sudanese government and its allied Arab militia have been accused of a scorched earth policy that has driven local black African villagers from their homes, following a rebellion by black African tribes.
The Security Council passed a resolution Thursday authorizing the creation of a United Nations peacekeeping force for the ravaged Darfur region of Sudan, but the resolution calls for the consent of the Sudanese government before troops can be deployed.
Sudanese officials immediately rejected the resolution. A senior adviser to President Omar al-Bashir told Al Jazeera television that the resolution was illegal and violated the peace accord signed by the government and one of the rebel factions.
But State Department officials were quick to say the resolution did not explicitly require Sudan’s consent. “This resolution invites Sudanese consent,” Kristen Silverberg, assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs, said at a briefing in Washington after the vote. “Nothing requires Sudanese consent.”
The proposed United Nations force is to include a military force of up to 17,300 members and a civilian police force of 3,300. It would replace or absorb the 7,000-member African Union force in Darfur, which has been hamstrung by financial and logistical problems and has failed to halt the slide into violence that President Bush has called genocide.
Since early May, when the peace agreement was signed between the government and one of the main rebel factions fighting for greater autonomy and wealth for the region, Darfur has fallen deeper into chaos, with rebel groups splintering and forming new alliances. The government has proposed using its own troops instead of a United Nations force to quell the rebellion.
The resolution also calls for immediate air, engineering and communications support for the African Union force, whose mandate will expire on Sept. 30.
Given that deadline, the United States and Britain urged speed. “Every day we delay only adds to the suffering of the Sudanese people and extends the genocide,” said John R. Bolton, the United States ambassador to the United Nations.
Even though there is already a United Nations force in the south of Sudan — consisting of about 10,000 troops, most of them from Asian nations — the government has portrayed a potential United Nations force in Darfur as a tool in a Western effort to get access to Sudan’s oil. The government has said it will resist the proposed force.
As is the case with the current African Union force, the United Nations troops would support the fulfillment of the peace agreement. That includes investigating cease-fire violations, monitoring movement of armed groups and developing a program for the disarmament and demobilization of combatants.
Acting under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter, the troops will also be authorized to use force to protect civilians, relief workers and United Nations workers. The African Union has for the most part lacked such authority and has called for the United Nations to take charge of the peacekeeping mission.
Hundreds of thousands of people have died and 2.5 million have been driven from their homes since the conflict began in 2003.
Twelve of the Security Council’s 15 members voted for the resolution. Russia, China and Qatar, the Council’s sole Arab member, abstained. They suggested that without Sudan’s consent, voting now could only make negotiations more difficult. The Chinese ambassador, Wang Guangya, said the resolution could make the violence in Darfur worse.
Mr. Bolton brushed aside the fears of Sudanese rejection. “The resolution simply said we invite their consent,’’ he said after the vote. “I think what we need is acquiescence. It would be nice to have cooperation. But the United Nations role should proceed, the planning should proceed, the operational work should be done and, as they say, silence gives consent.’’
The Sudanese ambassador to the United Nations did not speak at Thursday’s meeting. The Security Council is to meet on Sept. 8 to discuss the situation with Sudanese officials and representatives from the Arab League, the African Union and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
Sudan has rejected a Security Council resolution to deploy U.N. troops to the country's troubled Darfur region.
The leadership of the ruling National Congress party described the resolution as an "unjustifiable hostility" against Sudan. The state-run news agency SUNA quoted the party as saying the country will not consent to any resolution that violates its sovereignty.
The Security Council passed a resolution Thursday that calls for the United Nations to absorb and expand a 7,000-member African Union force that has not been able to control rampant violence in Darfur.
Additional troops would not be deployed without the approval of Sudan's government, which has repeatedly rejected the idea of U.N. intervention.
Twelve of the council's 15 member approved the resolution, with Russia, China and Qatar abstaining.
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, said Washington expects Sudan's full and unconditional cooperation with the U.N. force.
The Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer, said she is very confident Sudan will ultimately accept U.N. peacekeepers in Darfur.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch urged the Council to be prepared to sanction Sudan if it refuses to give consent to the U.N. force.
Three and a half years of fighting in Darfur has killed an estimated 200,000 people and displaced another two million.
The United States and other countries have described the situation in Darfur as a genocide. Sudan's government has been accused of arming militias to crush rebels in a brutal campaign of rape and murder.
From the BBC...
The Sudanese government has vehemently rejected a UN Security Council resolution that would send a UN force to Sudan's Darfur region.
"The Sudanese people will not consent to any resolution that will violate its sovereignty," the official Suna news agency quoted the government as saying.
The resolution demands the consent of Khartoum for the force to be deployed.
Killings, rape and displacement are continuing in Darfur despite the presence of African Union peacekeepers.
In three years of fighting some 200,000 people have been killed, according to the UN, and more than two million driven from their homes.
The Sudanese government has suggested it send at least 10,000 of its own troops to the region, but Western nations and human rights groups say that could make matters worse.
Earlier on Thursday, the Security Council voted 12-0 to despatch 17,500 UN soldiers and 3,000 UN police to Darfur.
China, Russia and Qatar abstained, saying they supported the contents of the resolution but wanted Sudan's consent before adopting it.
The US described the abstentions as "inexplicable".
Sudan stands firm
Resolution 1706 "invites the consent of the [Sudanese] government" for the deployment, but on Thursday President Omar al-Bashir strongly reiterated his opposition.
In the statement quoted by the Suna agency, his ruling party called on the Sudanese people to "strengthen further their cohesion and ranks and prepare to face any development".
Sudanese opponents of such a force have accused it of having "colonial" ambitions.
The BBC's correspondent at UN headquarters in New York, Mike Sergeant, says diplomats acknowledge that a UN force could only go to Darfur with the agreement of the Sudanese government.
The resolution's sponsors, the US and UK, say they hope it will put new pressure on President Bashir to accept a UN force.
"It is imperative that we move immediately to implement it fully to stop the tragic events unfolding in Darfur," US ambassador to the UN John Bolton said.
"Every day we delay only adds to the suffering of the Sudanese people and extends the genocide."
Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer said she was "absolutely confident" Khartoum would accept a UN force.
Mrs Frazer said she would urge Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol to come to Washington for talks.
And the Security Council has scheduled a meeting on 8 September with Sudanese officials and representatives of the African Union, Arab League and Organisation of the Islamic Conference to discuss the issue.
The U.N. Security Council on Thursday voted 12-0 for a resolution that would put a U.N. peacekeeping force in Sudan's war-torn Darfur region, provided the African nation does not oppose it.
But Sudan's envoy to the United Nations, [Deputy] Ambassador Omar Bashir [Manis], described the resolution as hastily drawn up.
The U.N. plan would beef up the financially strapped African Union's force of 7,000 troops, which has been unable to quell the violence there.
Sudan, however, has steadfastly opposed a U.N. peacekeeping force taking over from the African Union.
The resolution drew abstentions from China, Russia and Qatar, with their representatives criticizing its timing, not its content.
Members of the international community sought Thursday to persuade Sudan to accept the document.
"It is imperative that we move to implement" the resolution "fully, to stop the tragic events unfolding in Darfur," said U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton.
"Every day we delay only adds to the suffering of Sudanese people and extends the genocide," he said.
But Bashir told the official Sudan News Agency that several member states' representatives had told him Sudan would have to agree to the implementation of the resolution before international forces could be stationed in Darfur.
Karen Pierce, Britain's deputy permanent representative and ambassador to the United Nations, said efforts are being made to persuade Sudan to accept the accord, and added that she hopes Sudan "heeds the call."
The resolution calls for the mandate of the U.N. Mission in Sudan -- UNMIS -- to be expanded to Darfur and "invites the consent" of Sudan, which has opposed U.N. peacekeepers taking over from the African Union mission currently in the region.
That phrasing means Sudan's lack of approval need not halt planning, Bolton said, noting that the resolution "simply said we invite their consent."
"As they say, silence is consent. If there isn't any obstructionism, which would be a good thing, then I think the operation can proceed. We're not looking for billboards on the highway into Khartoum accepting the resolution. We'll be happy with acquiescence."
He said the United States expects the Sudanese government to accept it.
"They have the resolution and we expect them to comply with it. And we'll see what happens in reality, as opposed to rhetoric."
The United Nations says that tens of thousands of people "have been killed in the past three years and 2 million others have been forced to flee their homes amid fighting between the Sudanese armed forces, allied militias and rebel groups."
U.S. officials have described the actions of pro-government Arab militia groups against black civilians during the conflict as genocide.
The resolution also calls for UNMIS to be "strengthened by up to 17,300 military personnel and by an appropriate civilian component, including up to 3,300 civilian police personnel and up to 16 formed police units."
An UNMIS mission is already in the Sudan's southern region, where it is helping to implement the 2005 peace accord there.
The resolution calls for helping the parties to the Darfur Peace Agreement to restructure and improve the country's police service, promote an independent judiciary and national legal framework and promote human rights.
The U.S. State Department has called the Darfur Peace Agreement, signed May 5 by the largest rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Movement, and the Sudanese government, "an important achievement for peace in Darfur ... that addresses the long-standing marginalization of Darfur, and charts a path for lasting peace for the innocent victims of the crisis."
The resolution asks U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to consult with the African Union, the government and rebels on a transition from the African Mission in Sudan to a U.N. operation in Darfur, a process that would unfold throughout the rest of the year.
The resolution, co-sponsored by the United States, Britain and others, reaffirms the "strong commitment to the sovereignty, unity, independence, and territorial integrity of the Sudan, which would be unaffected by transition to a United Nations operation in Darfur, and to the cause of peace."
It expresses "determination to work with" Sudan's "government of national unity, in full respect of its sovereignty, to assist in tackling the various problems confronting the Sudan and that a United Nations operation in Darfur shall have, to the extent possible, a strong African participation and character."
After the session, reporters questioned diplomats about the key issue of Sudan's stance on the resolution.
Nana Effah-Apenteng -- Ghana's ambassador to the U.N. who held the council's presidency this month -- said the resolution "does not close the door to further dialogue and consultations" with Sudan's government or other international parties.
Ahead of the U.N. Security Council vote, Sudan said its people would "not consent to any resolution that will violate its sovereignty."
The Sudanese regime has warned of a "battle with the international community" after the United Nations Security Council voted to send peacekeepers to war-torn Darfur.
In comments sure to concern western powers, Ali Osman Taha, the Sudanese [Second] Vice President, also hailed Hezbollah for its "determination, patience and political will".
The Security Council wants UN peacekeepers to take over the longstanding African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur, if Khartoum approves.
Last night [Thursday] it overwhelmingly approved the deployment of a 22,600-strong UN force to western Sudan.
Twelve of the council’s 15 members voted in favour of the resolution, which states that the deployment would take place "on the basis of the acceptance of the (Sudanese) government". China, Russia and Qatar abstained.
Deploying a robust UN force is seen as crucial to the success of a fragile Darfur peace agreement signed by the Khartoum government and the main rebel faction in May.
The Security Council said that the ill-equipped and underfunded AU mission had been unable to prevent killings, rape and the internal displacement of civilians in Darfur. Many of the atrocities have been blamed on Islamic Janjaweed militias covertly backed by the Sudan government.
The United States pressed Khartoum to lift its opposition to a UN force. But Mr Taha told a rally in the North Kordofan State capital of El-Obeid yesterday: "We have options and plans for confronting the international intervention."
He praised the Muslim militant group Hezbollah, which recently spent 34 days at war with Israel in south Lebanon, and exalted the toll which it had "exacted in the ranks of the army of the Zionist enemy".
This had been due to the "determination, patience and political will the party enjoys", Mr Taha added.
The Vice-President added that "the battle with the international community requires patience and strict precautions."
He further called for "an effective working programme and strenuous action" to oppose the UN force.
Mr Taha was the third government official to speak out against the Security Council.
Osman Yusuf Kibir, the North Darfur governor, said that the Security Council resolution "lacks legitimacy and credibility", while state television quoted Majzoub al-Khalifa, a presidential adviser, as saying it was "entirely unacceptable".
"The resolution was based on the premise that security is deteriorating in Darfur," Mr Kibir said on Sudan television."This is a false assumption as security has improved and prevails all over the region."
But Karen Pierce, Britain’s deputy UN ambassador, said that the Darfur crisis "has gone on far too long."
The adoption of the text, she added, "sends a clear message on the need for an unbiased, well-equipped third party to implement the DPA (Darfur Peace Agreement) and ensure the protection of Darfurs civilians."
In Washington, a top State Department official pointed out that Khartoum’s agreement was not needed to reinforce the UN mission in Sudan. "The (UN) resolution invites Sudanese consent - nothing requires Sudanese consent," said Kristen Silverberg.
The Sudanese government and the UN security council were at loggerheads yesterday [Thursday] after Khartoum rejected a plan to send thousands of peacekeepers to try to halt three years of killings in Darfur.
A UN resolution passed yesterday called on the Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, to permit up to 22,500 UN troops and police officers to take over from overstretched African Union soldiers by the end of the year. The 7,000-strong AU force, which has only enough money to exist until its mandate runs out at the end of next month, has failed to halt violence that has claimed at least 200,000 lives and displaced 2 million people, despite the signing of a peace deal last April.
But Majzoub al-Khalifa, a presidential adviser responsible for Darfur, told al Jazeera the resolution was "illegal". Another adviser, Ali Tamim Fartak, said: "Our stand is very clear, that the Sudanese government has not been consulted and it is not appropriate to pass a resolution before they seek the permission of Sudan." Khartoum has refused to discuss the issue with the security council, accusing it of trying to manufacture a western invasion of Sudan.
Twelve council members, including Britain and the US, voted in favour. Russia and China, which have strong economic ties to Sudan, along with Qatar, abstained, arguing that Khartoum's agreement should be obtained first. But backers of the resolution said they hoped it would pressure Mr Bashir into changing his mind.
"In political terms it says we want consent, but we're not going to wait until they say 'fine, we're ready' before the security council takes action," one diplomat told the Guardian. But he said the resolution was passed more with a sense of hope than of confidence that Khartoum would be swayed.
Karen Pierce, Britain's deputy ambassador at the UN, said if Sudan was "genuinely concerned about the welfare and protection of its citizens, there is no reason not to give this consent". The UN force, if it entered the country, would be able to use "all necessary means" to protect civilians.
Earlier this year Sudan's second vice-president, Ali Osman Muhammad Taha, twice assured the international community that UN peacekeepers could take over the weak AU mission once a peace deal was in place.
Since the signing of a peace agreement by Khartoum and the main rebel group in May, however, Mr Bashir has warned that UN troops would face a "graveyard" in Darfur and repeatedly described the proposed peacekeeping effort as an imperialist plot.
"The government has backed itself into a corner because its rhetoric against the UN force has hardened rather than softened in recent months," said David Mozersky, Sudan analyst for the International Crisis Group. "Backing down now will cause serious domestic political repercussions."
Some senior figures, including Minni Minnawi, the former Darfur rebel leader now special presidential adviser, support the idea of a blue-helmet force, but they have no power to override the will of the ruling National Congress party.
Instead of UN troops, Mr Bashir has proposed sending 10,000 government soldiers to Darfur to supplement the AU mission, a move many believe could risk worse violence. In recent months the security situation has deteriorated sharply, severely hampering aid work.
The Security Council voted Thursday to send a new peacekeeping force to Sudan's Darfur region, but the country's government immediately rejected the resolution as "illegal."
The rejection heightened diplomats' concerns about a looming humanitarian crisis in the troubled region, where an African Union contingent has been largely unable to protect civilians and monitor a cease-fire.
The Sudanese government said the U.N. force was unwelcome and that its own soldiers would pacify the region in tandem with the African Union troops.
"Our stand is very clear: that the Sudanese government has not been consulted, and it is not appropriate to pass a resolution before they seek the permission of Sudan," presidential advisor Ali Tamim Fartak told the Reuters news agency. Another presidential advisor, Majzoub Khalifa, told Al Jazeera satellite television channel that the resolution was "illegal."
The government has begun massing forces in Darfur, and it informed the U.N. last month that it would deploy 10,500 troops to stabilize the region. U.N. officials, however, believe Sudan is preparing an offensive against rebel groups that did not sign a recent peace agreement and have attacked government troops.
U.N. humanitarian chief Jan Egeland warned this week of "hundreds of thousands of deaths" if another conflict causes aid operations to collapse. Aid workers already are at grave risk because of increasing violence and lack of funds, he said. The International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed Thursday that a staff member had been killed after being kidnapped two weeks ago during an attack on a food convoy.
Three years of conflict involving government forces, their allied militias and rebel groups have caused about 200,000 deaths and displaced around 2 million people. Sudan signed a peace agreement with one rebel group in May, but other anti-government factions refused, and have stepped up their attacks.
The resolution passed Thursday "invites the consent" of the Sudanese government for the deployment of as many as 17,300 troops, 3,300 civilian police and technical support for the 7,000-member African Union force. China, Russia and Qatar abstained from the vote because they object to deployment without Sudan's explicit permission.
The United States and Britain, the co-sponsors of the resolution, urged quick action to ensure the U.N. force could begin deploying by Oct. 1, when the African Union mandate expires.
"Every day we delay only adds to the suffering of the Sudanese people and extends the genocide," U.S. Ambassador John R. Bolton told the Security Council.
Bolton told reporters that the U.N. could begin to send equipment and a limited number of troops immediately to support the African Union mission, based on a previous resolution to which Sudan has assented. He said he hoped the government in Khartoum would agree to the expanded U.N. force in Darfur, or at least not block it.
"The resolution simply said we invite their consent," he said. "I think what we need is acquiescence. It would be nice to have cooperation. But the U.N.'s role should proceed; the planning should proceed; the operational work should be done and, as they say, silence gives consent."
Tanzanian Ambassador Augustine Mahiga said that quietly allowing a buildup, ostensibly in support of the African Union force, could be "a facesaving approach" for Khartoum, but he added that he hoped the Sudanese government would cooperate more directly with the U.N. and its aid agencies.
"I think it would be good to get clearer signals from Sudan than to do it surreptitiously or through the back door," he said.
The resolution refers obliquely to the world's "responsibility to protect" civilians under siege by their own governments, a proviso endorsed by world leaders last September at a U.N. summit. But no one is willing to "fight their way in" to Sudan against the government's wishes, Bolton said.
In Washington, the State Department's top official for Africa, Jendayi E. Frazer, said she was "absolutely confident" that Sudan's president eventually would consent to the U.N. force.
ELEANOR HALL: The United Nations Security Council has voted overwhelmingly to send 17,000 international peacekeepers into the Darfur region of Sudan.
They'll take over from the ill-equipped African Union peacekeeping force, which has had almost no impact on a conflict that has killed up to 300,000 people and left 2.5 million people homeless over the past three years.
The problem is, the Sudanese Government is still refusing to accept the new UN plan.
Africa Correspondent Zoe Daniel reports.
ZOE DANIEL: It's been the United States and the United Kingdom who have been pushing the Security Council to adopt the resolution.
For months they've been lobbying to get the UN force approved. They want it in place now by the end of the year.
US Ambassador John Bolton.
JOHN BOLTON: We're very worried about the humanitarian situation in Darfur. Each day that you delay adopting the resolution is a day that pushes out the planning and logistical work that has to take place, first to bring support to the existing AMIS (African Mission in Sudan) force, but second to facilitate the ultimate transition to the UN force.
ZOE DANIEL: Three countries abstained, Sudanese allies Russia, China and Qatar, but finally, the Security Council has voted in-principle for a UN force to take over from the under resourced African Union troops who are now monitoring the situation.
Unlike the AU troops, 17,000 UN peacekeepers and 3,000 police would have the power to prevent attacks on civilians, in a bid to stem escalating violence against the innocent.
The African Union has practically begged the UN to take over because of a shortage of troops and money to continue the mission. But the new deployment can't happen until the Sudanese Government agrees.
Until now the Islamic leadership in Khartoum has refused to even countenance an international peacekeeping force.
(Sounds of Gholam Al Dein Osman speaking)
Sudanese Governor Gholam Al Dein Osman echoes the President when he says, "we will not allow anyone to come to Darfur, we will not allow even the Security Council to go to Darfur or any part of Sudan, we will not allow them to interfere in our affairs."
In fact Sudan's President has accused the American Government of trying to turn Darfur into another Iraq and he's repeatedly ruled out allowing a UN force in.
That's what the UN is now contending with.
(Sounds of protest)
ZOE DANIEL: But convincing the Sudanese Government won't be easy. Government sanctioned protests on the streets of Khartoum have threatened a jihad against any American troops.
Chanting students have told Americans they will find death if they go to Sudan.
VOX POP 1: Any American who comes to Sudan will die in Darfur. Any American who comes to Sudan will die.
ZOE DANIEL: They follow the Government's Islamist rhetoric, telling UN troops to stay out.
VOX POP 2: The Sudanese has said no US here. All of the people said by one voice, no, no, no for America.
No America, no United Nations, he said. But all of the people, he said, by one voice, no, no, no, no…
ZOE DANIEL: The Security Council resolution says the UN will work with the Government of Sudan and respect its sovereignty.
It also says that a UN force will consist of as many African troops as possible. The plan is to start by supplementing the African Union force with UN troops.
That's if the Sudanese Government agrees.
ELEANOR HALL: The ABC's Africa Correspondent, Zoe Daniel, with that report.
The U.N. Security Council yesterday approved a long-sought resolution that would place an expanded peacekeeping force in Sudan's troubled Darfur region under U.N. authority, even as the government appeared to have begun a new offensive against rebel forces.
The new U.N. mandate would take effect only with Sudan's consent, and its president, Lt. Gen. Omar Hassan al-Bashir, immediately rejected it. Officials in Khartoum have repeatedly said that they favor the current African force, under the auspices of the African Union, instead of one from the United Nations.
The African Union, however, favors the transfer of control to the United Nations, saying it is unable to keep the peace and will soon run out of funds.
The stalemate over the troops and the new outbreak of fighting appeared to signal the failure of a peace deal reached three months ago that was hailed by the Bush administration as the key to resolving the conflict. Only one rebel group, with little support from the population, signed the agreement, and it has joined forces with Sudanese troops in an effort to crush ethnic African tribes challenging the Arab-led Khartoum government.
The peace agreement was brokered by Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick, but he has since left the government, as have many of his key advisers on Sudan.
The Darfur conflict broke out in early 2003 when African rebel groups attacked police stations and military outposts. The United Nations and human rights groups accuse the central government of supporting militiamen, called the Janjaweed, in an effort to crush the rebellion.
About 2,000 villages have been destroyed across Darfur; violence and disease have left as many as 450,000 people dead and 2 million homeless. Two years ago, the Bush administration accused Bashir's government of abetting genocide.
The peace agreement, rather than ending the fighting, appears to have rekindled it. There are widespread reports of the major rearming of government forces and the two rebel groups that did not sign the peace deal. They have since joined forces and have apparently acquired shoulder-fired missiles.
The rebel group led by Minni Minnawi -- who met with President Bush at the White House in July, after he signed the May peace deal -- has, in effect, become a paramilitary arm of the government. Growing numbers of Land Rover vehicles and Toyota trucks with machine guns have been reported in northern Darfur.
Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi E. Frazer flew to Khartoum this week to persuade Bashir to change his mind on the U.N. force, dangling the possibility of a meeting with Bush if Bashir accepted. Bashir made Frazer wait three days before he saw her, and he signaled that he had not changed his mind. But Frazer said yesterday that she was "very confident" Bashir would ultimately accept.
The U.N. resolution would create a peacekeeping force of as many as 22,500 military and police personnel, compared with the 7,000 currently serving under the African Union in an area the size of France. The U.N. force would also have a much stronger mandate to prevent an outbreak of violence.
About 5,000 members of the African Union force could be immediately placed under U.N. authority, but officials have not yet determined which countries would provide the rest.
The resolution was approved by a vote of 12 to 0, with China, Russia and Qatar abstaining. Assistant Secretary of State Kristen Silverberg said the abstentions were "inexplicable, in light of the very grave and serious and deteriorating security situation." But Chinese and Russian officials said they wanted Sudan's consent before the resolution was adopted, out of concern that the move might result in even more bloodshed.
John Prendergast of the nonprofit International Crisis Group, who was in Darfur over the weekend, said there has been a major new government offensive there in recent days. "It has already started," said Prendergast, who has returned to his office in Washington.
Rebel commander Abubakar Hamid Nur, speaking by satellite phone from northern Darfur, said that government Antonov planes have been bombing villages as dozens of government gun trucks and thousands of troops have moved north from the provincial capital of El Fasher. Nur said the rebels have been retreating rather than clash with better-equipped government troops.
But he predicted an outright battle in the days ahead. Many of the civilians who were attacked have left on camels and horses to gather weapons.
"The coming days, there will be very big fighting in Darfur," Nur said. He said the government offensive is an effort to grab land in anticipation of the U.N. force eventually arriving. "They are killing and dancing over the skeletons of the people of Darfur," Nur said.
Major new fighting in northern regions of Darfur began Tuesday, according to Sam Ibok, an African Union official in Khartoum overseeing the implementation of the Darfur peace deal. Ibok said more than 20 civilians have been killed and more than 1,000 have been displaced, according to reports from affected areas. Those areas, he added, are beyond where African Union troops can travel safely.
"It's like a 'no-go' area for our forces," he said. Ibok said the fighting of the past three days was the worst so far this year. "The magnitude of this has not been reported before. This represents some kind of escalation," he said.
Manuel da Silva, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Sudan, predicted a steady deterioration in food, clean water and medical care in the weeks ahead as aid groups retreat from the countryside in northern Darfur because of the growing danger.
But Rabie Abdul Atti, a senior adviser to Sudan's information minister, said the recent violence is strictly between rebel groups that signed the pact and those that had not. "The government has taken no part in the fighting at all," Atti said.
Prendergast, who said he "could not point to anything good happening now" in Darfur, criticized the administration's strategy of offering incentives to Sudan's government rather than pressuring Khartoum with sanctions or possible war crimes indictments. He said that the peace agreement is terribly flawed, and that the departure of Zoellick and his aides left U.S. policy in limbo.
"The Darfur Peace Agreement is allowing the government to resume the war," Prendergast said. "This is a grotesque abuse of the intentions of those who crafted the peace deal back in May."
Sudanese [Second] Vice President Ali Osman Taha vowed the regime would maintain its opposition to a UN peacekeeping force for Darfur and hailed Hezbollah as a model of resistance, official media said Friday.
"We have options and plans for confronting the international intervention," state news agency SUNA quoted Taha as telling a rally in the North Kordofan State capital of El-Obeid late Thursday.
He cited the toll Shiite militant group Hezbollah had "exacted in the ranks of the army of the Zionist enemy" in this summer's devastating conflict in Lebanon "due to the determination, patience and political will the party enjoys".
"We are prepared for all possibilities," the vice president said, adding that "the battle with the international community requires patience and strict precautions."
He called for "an effective working programme and strenuous action" to oppose the UN force approved by the Security Council Thursday.
Taha was the third government official to speak out against the Security Council's decision to take over the longstanding African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur if Khartoum approved.
North Darfur governor Osman Yusuf Kibir said the Security Council resolution "lacks legitimacy and credibility."
State television quoted presidential adviser Majzoub al-Khalifa Ahmed as saying the resolution was "entirely unacceptable" and warning that it could "incite sedition".
The Security Council overwhelmingly approved the deployment of a 17,300-strong UN force to strife-torn western Sudan, with the United States pressing Khartoum to lift its opposition.
Twelve of the council's 15 members voted in favour of the resolution, which states that the deployment would take place "on the basis of the acceptance of the (Sudanese) government", while China, Russia and Qatar abstained.
The text calls for UN peacekeepers to take over from the ill-equipped and underfunded AU mission, which has been unable to prevent killings, rape and the internal displacement of civilians in Darfur.
Deploying a robust UN force is seen as crucial to the success of a fragile Darfur peace agreement signed by the Khartoum government and the main rebel faction in May.
The U.N. Security Council yesterday [Thursday] approved a beefed-up international peacekeeping force for Sudan's Darfur region, a deployment U.S. officials say can go into effect even without the consent of Sudan's government.
There was confusion over the force of the resolution, designed to contain a civil war and humanitarian tragedy in the vast region of western Sudan that has left some 300,000 dead and 2.5 million people homeless since 2003.
Sudanese government officials immediately condemned the resolution as illegal, and some diplomats in New York said the U.N. troops could not replace an underfunded and outmanned African Union (AU) force now in Darfur without Khartoum's permission.
The Sudanese government says it is the rebel groups who have rejected a U.S.-brokered peace deal. The government is now assembling a major force for a possible new offensive in the region.
But Kristin Silverberg, State Department assistant secretary for international organizations, said in a briefing that the U.N. resolution does not require Sudan's endorsement.
"This resolution invites Sudan's consent. It does not require it," she said.
The text of the resolution says the new force would be deployed "on the basis of acceptance by the [Sudanese government]," but U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John R. Bolton told reporters after the vote that the mission could go ahead so long as Khartoum did not actively object.
"We're not looking for any billboards on the highway into Khartoum accepting the resolution," he said. "We would be happy with acquiescence."
But in Khartoum, an emergency meeting of the country's ruling party chaired by President Omar Bashir issued a statement insisting that "the Sudanese people will not consent to any resolution that will violate its sovereignty," according to the official Sudan News Agency.
U.N. peacekeeping missions traditionally have only been deployed with the express approval of the member governments. The world body has been burned in places like Somalia, where peacekeepers were inserted into conflicts without the acceptance of all the local political forces.
Top officials of Lt. Gen. Bashir's government have threatened to attack U.N. troops, and U.N. officials worry it will be hard to recruit forces from other countries without Sudan's acceptance.
Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Jendayi Frazer said she hopes to meet within the week in Washington with Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol to press Khartoum to accept the proposed U.N. force. Mrs. Frazer met with Lt. Gen. Bashir and other top Sudanese officials on a trip to the country earlier this week, but failed to secure Sudanese support for the mission.
The U.N. resolution calls for a multinational force of up to 22,500 soldiers and police officers to replace the 7,000-man AU force now monitoring the Darfur standoff. The mandate for the AU force expires Oct. 1, although its mission could be extended until the end of the year.
The core of the new force would continue to be troops from African nations, but it would be better supplied and supported, with a U.N. backing for tougher enforcement actions.
Mrs. Frazer disputed press accounts that her diplomatic mission to Sudan had been a failure, saying she had "cordial" talks with Lt. Gen. Bashir and "frank" discussions with his advisers about the situation in Darfur.
She acknowledged the "heated public dialogue" in Khartoum over the U.N. force, but said Sudanese officials already endorse a strengthening of the AU force now in Darfur.
"I am very confident that ultimately they will accept the decision of the African Union that there needs to be a transition from the [AU force] to a U.N. mission," she said.
The Security Council vote was 12-0, with Russia, China and Qatar, the council's only current Arab member, all abstaining. Chinese officials expressed unease at pushing for the vote on the U.S.-British text before gaining Sudan's approval.
But Mrs. Silverberg called the abstentions "inexplicable" in light of the massive security and humanitarian crisis in Darfur.
The government of Sudan appears to have begun its long-feared military offensive in the troubled Darfur region against rebels who have refused to sign a US-brokered peace agreement, UN officials said yesterday [Thursday].
Secretary General Kofi Annan's office said yesterday that it had received reports indicating that the Sudanese forces struck Monday in the remote area of Abu Sakin, about 50 miles north of the state capital Al Fasher, sparking fears that the new round of violence could leave tens of thousands more people dead or displaced.
As the reports surfaced, the UN Security Council voted to deploy as many as 21,600 peacekeepers to the region to replace 7,000 ill-equipped African Union troops whose mandate expires in September. US officials expressed optimism that at least part of the force could be activated almost immediately, since some of the African Union troops who are already on the ground would serve in the new force.
John Bolton , the US ambassador to the United Nations, called the deployment of peacekeepers ``the best hope to bolster the Darfur Peace Agreement and end the tragedy we are witnessing in Darfur."
But Sudan restated after the UN vote that it will not accept UN peacekeepers in Darfur, saying the force would violate the nation's sovereignty. Sudan has built up a massive military force of its own troops in the area, setting the stage for a confrontation with the international community.
``We completely reject this resolution . . . which is illegal," Majzoub al-Khalifa, Sudan's presidential adviser responsible for Darfur, told Al Jazeera television.
Sudan's envoys boycotted yesterday's UN meeting. The resolution passed by a vote of 12-0, with abstentions by Russia, China, and Qatar.
Sudan has been plagued with civil war for decades, as tribes in Sudan's southern and western regions have fought against the Arab government in Khartoum, seeking control over resources and political rights.
The conflict in Darfur, in western Sudan, erupted in February 2003 when non-Arab rebels took up arms against the government. Khartoum responded by arming Arab militias known as Janjaweed, who have been accused of murdering, looting, and raping civilians from tribes that are seen as rebel sympathizers.
Hundreds of thousands have died from violence, malnutrition, and disease, and more than 2 million people have been displaced in the conflict, according to humanitarian groups.
The Bush administration declared the violence in Darfur genocide nearly two years ago, but little has changed in the daily lives of civilians there. The African Union troops were deployed in 2004 to protect civilians. But they have so little access to vehicles and equipment that they often have difficulty protecting themselves.
The State Department has put its weight behind the peace agreement, signed in May, as the only way to end the violence. But the agreement fell so short of rebel demands that only one of three main rebel factions signed it. Now that faction, the Sudan Liberation Movement, led by Minni Minnawi , is accused of assisting in the Sudanese government's offensive.
``Minnawi has now become what many Darfuris call the `new Janjaweed,' " said Eric Reeves, a Smith College professor who has become one of the most outspoken advocates for Darfur in the United States. ``We are going to see the same thing [as the Janjaweed attacks in 2003], only Minnawi will perform that role."
Reeves said that Minnawi signed the peace deal and joined forces with the government because his political clout among the rebels had eroded, and that he was now seeking to gain back territory he lost to rebel rivals.
Indeed, when Sudan's president, Omar Al-Bashir, briefed Annan a month ago on his plan to ``restore stability" in Darfur, he proposed a phased build-up of 4,000 Sudanese troops by the end of September, backed by 2,000 of Minnawi's Sudan Liberation Movement troops, according to a copy of the plan. Bashir indicated that the troops would implement the peace agreement by launching an offensive against those who did not sign it.
Yesterday, Annan wrote Bashir to strongly urge that he accept UN troops instead. Fear of an impending surge in attacks on aid workers and civilians has already caused some humanitarian groups to curb their life-saving services in the region. Rebels have also been implicated in attacks on humanitarian convoys and civilians.
John Prendergast, senior adviser to the International Crisis Group, a global think tank, who returned Wednesday from an eight-day trip to Darfur and Chad, said he had received reports from contacts on the ground that Minnawi's forces were working with Sudanese government forces to attack the rebel groups that did not sign the peace treaty.
He said his contacts told him that Sudanese forces, the Janjaweed militias, and Minnawi's forces begun their attacks on Tuesday in the villages of Kulkul, Bir Maza, and Sayeh.
``The war is intensifying," he said. ``The humanitarian implications are worsening. The worst-case scenario is underway."
The attacks took place as Jendayi Frazer , assistant US secretary for African affairs, was in Sudan trying to persuade Bashir to accept a UN force.
The UN mission in Sudan reported to Annan's office earlier this week that it had received information that about 30 Sudanese Armed Forces vehicles had pushed the rebels out of Abu Sakin and now controlled the area.
Casualty figures from the offensive were not known, according to the report .
Yesterday, analysts accused former deputy secretary of state Robert Zoellick of rushing the peace deal in May without including key provisions that would have persuaded more rebels to sign on, such as the transition of the African Union force to a UN force, the proper compensation for displaced people, and international monitoring of the disarmament of the Janjaweed militias.
``Zoellick had only a few days," Prendergast said. ``He left after only one [rebel] group had signed, and there were many other issues on the table."
``With the arrival of Zoellick and the determination to ram through a peace agreement . . . the issues of security guarantees and compensation were essentially dismissed," Reeves said.
Reeves also criticized the international community for refusing to deploy a force to Sudan without Khartoum's consent.
But Frazer told reporters yesterday that she was ``absolutely confident that ultimately the government of Sudan will accept" the UN force.
Sudan's Islamist government issued an angry rejection yesterday [Thursday] to a United Nations Security Council resolution approving the deployment of thousands more peacekeepers to the strife-torn Darfur region.
But it remains unclear what the international community will do if Khartoum maintains its vehement objection to what it insists would be an illegal invasion of its territory.
The resolution is the first to refer to the "responsibility to protect" concept agreed to at a summit of world leaders a year ago, in which the international community pledged to intervene to protect civilians if their own government could not or would not.
The intention of the resolution is to end a worsening humanitarian catastrophe in Darfur that has killed more than 200,000 people and sent 2.5 million fleeing their homes. But Khartoum has vowed to repulse any international peacekeepers other than the small and ineffective African Union force already in place. Moreover, it says it intends to use 10,500 of its own troops to crush the rebels who oppose it.
"Our stand is very clear, that the Sudanese government has not been consulted and it is not appropriate to pass a resolution before they seek the permission of Sudan," presidential adviser Ali Tamim Fartak said.
Majzoub al-Khalifa, the senior presidential official responsible for Darfur, told Al-Jazeera television that the government completely rejected the resolution, which he called illegal.
The Security Council resolution passed 12-0, with China, Russia and Qatar abstaining. United States and Britain, the two original sponsors, said they hoped the vote would put added pressure on President Omar al-Bashir to change his mind.
"It is imperative that we move immediately to implement it fully to stop the tragic events unfolding in Darfur," U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said. "Every day we delay only adds to the suffering of the Sudanese people and extends the genocide."
The resolution calls for as many as 22,600 UN troops and police officers and an immediate injection of air, engineering and communications support for the 7,000-member African Union force.
China and Russia said they supported the contents of the resolution but wanted Sudan's consent. Without Khartoum's agreement, China said, the resolution risks triggering further violence in Darfur.
"This is obviously not the intended outcome of the council in adopting this resolution," UN Ambassador Wang Guangya said.
Analysts at the Brussels-based International Crisis Group maintain that Khartoum has no incentive to stop its campaign of atrocities -- let alone agree to the deployment of a UN force -- until significant penalties are imposed.
"The regime will only change its behaviour in response to realistic threats of punishments," the ICG's Nick Grono and John Prendergast wrote recently. "UN member states must change the calculus of self-interest for the Sudanese regime, and one of the most effective ways of doing this is to target its sources of illicit income and unravel the Sudanese leadership's shadowy web of commercial interests."
The Darfur conflict began in 2003, when ethnic African tribes revolted against the Arab-led government. Khartoum is accused of unleashing Arab militiamen known as janjaweed who have been blamed for widespread atrocities. A peace deal signed in May by the government and one of the ethnic African rebel groups has had little effect -- UN officials and aid workers say the crisis has only deepened in recent months.
One central element of the resolution gives peacekeepers new power to intervene and protect civilians. The current African Union force has had little authority to do so.