Monday, 6 June 2011


DEFENCE minister Dr. Kalombo Mwansa has defended the conduct of Zambian troops in Sudan’s Abyei region saying they conducted themselves professionally and with utmost sense of duty.
In a press release issued in Lusaka yesterday, Dr Mwansa described the reported criticism against Zambian peacekeepers in Abyei concerning their alleged conduct during the attack of the region as unfair, devoid of fact and ill-conceived.
Dr Mwansa argued that the Zambian soldiers had protected the lives of civilians, their property and that of the UN at the time south and northern Sudan forces were fighting in Abyei.
Dr Mwansa stated that the invasion of the area by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) on May 21, 2011 was retaliatory after its convoy was attacked by Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) the previous day, north of Todach.
“From the tactical point of view, in conventional warfare, it is unreasonable and inconceivable, even if this were permitted by the United
Nations charter, to expect a Battalion strength force, with limitations in strength and equipment as imposed by UN MoU, to fight pound for pound an
advancing fully fledged reinforced division size attacking force as was the case in Abyei on 21 May, 2011,” read the statement. “The best that is expected of such a battalion strength force is to try to hold its ground while waiting for reinforcement from friendly forces. Again, this is exactly what the Zambian contingent did. By so doing, the Zambian contingent managed to protect the lives and property of both the United Nations and civilians.
Reuter has reported that the UN was investigating Zambian peacekeepers in Abyei who allegedly hid in the barracks for two days instead of protecting civilians during clashes over the disputed oil-rich territory.
According to UN diplomatic sources quoted by Reuters, the Zambian soldiers stayed holed up for two days during violent clashes between northern and southern forces that sparked the flight of tens of thousands of civilians.

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