Transcript of UN radio interview with JSR Adada, 31 December 2007.
Transcript: Interview with JSR Rodolphe ADADA
by Maha FAYEK, UN Radio
31 December 2007
FAYEK: Mr. Adada, thanks for giving this interview to UN Radio. First of all, what are your feelings as African troops are switching to blue helmets?
ADADA: Yes, this has been said in the UN Security Council resolution. So this is the day, the last day, of the mission of the African Union. And we mark this day by a ceremony, and the ceremony includes re-hatting. It will not be a really big ceremony, but it is symbolic.
FAYEK: Do you expect any overnight miracles while the force still lacks—
FAYEK: (Continues) the 24 helicopters needed to patrol an area the size of France? And not (only) one has been forthcoming?
ADADA: Really, this is one of the main concerns of the Secretary-General. He himself stated that this is a problem. We really need to have some aviation assets because we cannot—even with military and police—we will not be able to patrol all Darfur by ground. So we need this equipment. And, unfortunately, as you know, no country has made a pledge for this.
FAYEK: So are you taking serious risks by going only with what you have?
ADADA: No, but we have to begin somewhere. And we have the troops on the ground already. We have the African troops; we have the heavy support package troops because we received already two battalions, two new battalions, from Nigeria and Rwanda. And we have received Police FPU from Bangladesh and Chinese engineers. So we begin with what we have.
FAYEK: So actually with regard to gradual deployment: Will the troops be fully deployed in March?
ADADA: We cannot have a deadline. We will try the best to have the troops on the ground. But we cannot set a deadline. As you know this question of the Troop Contributing Countries is managed from New York. It is the DPKO and the African Union in Addis that are in touch with the countries. And we hope that (drops) we will have the troops the sooner.
FAYEK: What is UNAMID’s strategic plan for the moment?
ADADA: We have to take over from the African Union. So we will have to continue the mission they are doing now. It is a mission of being present, being there. But with less than half the troops we should have, it will be difficult. But we…we begin. As you know, the African troops have been here for four years, and everybody is sure that they had made a very good job. Because without them, I’m not sure that Darfur could have been a safer place than today. So we have to build on that success and we will try to improve the situation.
FAYEK: What is the level of cooperation of the Sudanese regime? Did you get clearance for night flights, for example?
ADADA: You know, all this is included in the UN Security Council resolution, and we are negotiating the Status of Forces Agreement. And all this will be in the SOFA. And we hope that very soon we will have the SOFA including all the facilities, all the provisions, of the UN Security Council. As you know, the government of Sudan has accepted this resolution. So there will be no problem from that point of view.
FAYEK: If it reaches full strength, how does UNAMID plan to neutralize thousands of janjaweed and rebels? Crucially, how can it secure IDP camps and the people of Darfur who will be at risk as long as the conflict continues?
ADADA: Don’t forget that we are a peacekeeping force. So we need to have the peace to keep. And this is the political process that will provide us with peace. So if there is no peace agreement in Darfur, then we will be…We are not a force of occupation. We have to help Darfurians implement the peace they hopefully will reach. So the main issue is the peace agreement. If we have the political peace agreement, then we will be in position to help them implement this peace agreement. But without the peace agreement, of course we are not going to succeed.
FAYEK: So in your view, the Darfur crisis requires more of a political solution over the military component?
ADADA: Yes, of course! Of course! You know all that crisis is a political one. And if we have this agreement…the problem is now the peace agreement reached in Abuja was not signed by the main component of the rebels. But now, we are in new negotiations, and we hopefully will have a new agreement and this will be the solution. The solution is through political negotiation; not military one.
FAYEK: And finally sir, what would you like to say to Darfurians today?
ADADA: It is to say that today is the winning of the international community has come to reality. And today will be the beginning of the new era of this commitment of the international community. The international community is here to help Darfurians, but they have to provide the peace. The peace is in their hearts, in their heads, in their hands; not in ours. We are here to help implement(ing) the peace. But they have to make the peace. This is the only courage we are asking them to have: the courage to make peace and not to make war.
FAYEK: So the hope is that over the course of the year, the rebel groups and the Sudanese government be able to reach a political agreement. Rudolphe Adada, thank you very much indeed.